Anti-terror operation in Pathankot air base is coming on to an end. By Monday evening the National Security Guard (NSG) claimed of eliminating five terrorists, even as combing operations were still on. Earlier in the morning, while addressing the press on the third day of the operations, NSG had apprehended the possibility of at least two terrorists holed up inside the two-storey building in the air base. By the evening it confirmed of eliminating one of them, though there are reports that both the terrorists have been killed. Stepping up the intensity of anti-terror operation in the air base, the authorities, however, assured that all strategic assets at the air base are safe.
“Terror strike at Pathankot airbase was a fidayeen attack…. the objective was to cause loss to its strategic assets,” Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley told the press on Monday evening.
Explosions and firing continued intermittently overnight on Sunday as security forces continue to combat the terrorist attack. Seven security personnel have lost their lives thus far.
The operation which began on Saturday stretched throughout the Sunday night with sounds of gunfire and explosions continued to be heard on Monday morning as late till 10 AM. According to the security establishment, attack helicopters were still flying over the area under siege and few more quick response teams (QRTs) have been rushed to the site.
Among the security personnel killed, Lieutenant Colonel Niranjan of the NSG, a member of elite force’s Bomb Disposal Squad, succumbed to injuries on Sunday taking the toll to seven. Lt. Col. Niranjan sustained the fatal injury while retrieving a live grenade from the body of a dead terrorist at the scene of the terror attack.
One Garud commando and five other personnel of Defence Security Corps (DSC) have been martyred in the operation. Seventeen security personnel were also injured.
“We are sure that still there are at least two more terrorists as firing have come from two different places. But we are not sure whether there are some more. We will come to know the number of terrorists only after the completion of the operation and body count,” Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi had said in a press conference in New Delhi on Sunday.
The authorities had first believed that the operations were over but on Sunday morning gunfire resumed after which five companies of army along with JCB bulldozers were sent to the area to speed up the operation against the terrorists.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday night reviewed the situation arising out of the terror attack at Pathankot air force base. According to the reports, PM Modi has also believed to have discussed with top officials the ramifications of this attack on the ties with Pakistan.
Soon after his return from Karnataka where the Prime Minister was on a two-day visit, he chaired a meeting of top officials including National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.
“Immediately on landing in Delhi, PM Narendra Modi is chairing a high-level meeting with the NSA, Foreign Secretary and other officials,” the PMO had tweeted on Sunday.
Pathankot area was on a high alert since January 1 after the twin incident of Punjab SP’s carjacking and the killing of one driver in the region. Soon after those incidents, intelligence and security set-up had begun preparing based on the inputs that infiltration has taken place from Gurdaspur sector and the target is Pathankot area.
According the initial investigations, the militants are believed to have entered the air base premises using the woody area. One of the groups of DSC was ambushed by the terrorists. From there, the gunmen forced their way inside the DSC mess opening indiscriminate firing.
(With inputs from the PTI)