Pathankot Attacks: PM Modi Holds High Level Meet Even As The Battle Continues

04/01/2016 7:49 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
AMRITSAR, INDIA - JANUARY 3: Members of National Human Rights and Crime Control Organization light candles and silent protest in front of portraits of Indian security personnel who lost their lives in the Pathankot militant attack at Air Force base, during a tribute paying ceremony at Company Bagh, on January 3, 2016 in Amritsar, India. The deadly assault on an Indian air base near the Pakistan border was 'a heinous' terrorist attack, the United States said, urging the two rivals to work together to hunt down those responsible. Three security officers were killed in the attack by suspected Islamist militants on Pathankot base in northern Punjab state early January 2. So far, six terrorists and seven soldiers, including a Lieutenant colonel, have been killed in the exchange of fire. Five members of the Defence Security Corps succumbed to injuries in the hospital. The attackers were believed to have infiltrated from Pakistan and there was speculation that they may belong to Jaish-e-Mohammad headed by Maulana Masood Azhar of the Kandahar hijack episode. (Photo by Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

PATHANKOT, Punjab: A day after six security personnel were martyred and four Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists neutralized in the operations at the Pathankot Air Force base on Saturday, the terrorists led a fresh attack on Sunday after remaining hidden for more than 17 hours in the 1,600-acre defence installation.

Seven security men lost their lives and 17 persons were injured in 30-hour long operation.

"The operation is still continuing and engagement with the terrorists is still going on," Air Commodore J S Dhamoon told reporters at a press conference here tonight.

The Air Commodore said four terrorists have been killed, seven security men - one is of Garud, five from Defence Security Corps (DSC) and one from NSG have been martyred in the operation.

He said that the operations will continue till the whole of air base is cleared of intruder and any terrorist.

PM Modi Chairs High Level Meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday night reviewed the situation arising out of the terror attack at Pathankot air force base and is believed to have discussed with top officials its ramifications on ties with Pakistan. Soon after his return from Karnataka where he was on a two-day visit, Modi chaired a meeting of top officials including National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.

The meeting lasted for over two hours, the sources said. “Immediately on landing in Delhi, PM Narendra Modi is chairing a high-level meeting with the NSA, Foreign Secretary and other officials,” the PMO tweeted as the meeting began. During the meeting, Doval is understood to have given a detailed account of the attack which has been going on since the wee hours of Saturday.

At the meeting, the implications of the attack on relations with Pakistan are also believed to have been deliberated upon. The attack took place merely a week after Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore to greet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday with an aim of improving bilateral ties between the two countries. Sharif was in Lahore for the wedding of his granddaughter.

Earlier during the day, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar briefed Prime Minister Modi on the latest situation at the Pathankot air base. Both were present at a HAL function in Tumakuru in Karnataka. Pathankot air base is under terror attack since yesterday.

Pakistan's Hand?

According to reports, the extent of terrorist operations in Pathankot and the likelihood of Delhi facing a similar threat is leading to mounting suspicion that the suspected Jaish-e-Mohammed strikes could not have been executed without Pakistan's army intelligence complex being in the loop.

"There is the possibility of hold outs and elements in the military who may not be as much "on board" the peace process as the army brass was said to be after the recent meeting between PMs Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif in Lahore," reports Times Of India.

A senior intelligence official told the newspaper that the Pak GHQ is peeved at the positive reaction of the international community and media to PM Narendra Modi's Lahore diplomacy and Nawaz Sharif's hospitality and feels bypassed after the "fait accompli".

“The entire atmosphere is being vitiated by the ISI, the (Pakistani) army and the separatist groups and their henchmen who have done this (attacked the Air Force base),” Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said.

The Battle Continues

The security forces have already killed four terrorists and two more are believed to be still holed-up inside the base, and an operation is underway to flush them out.

One NSG officer lost his life and three others suffered injuries when they were defusing the explosive material of a slain militant during which a grenade blast took place.

During the day, five companies of army, armed with bulldozers, JCB were sent to the area to speed up the operation against the terrorists.

Throughout the day choppers kept flying over the air force station to provide aerial support to the ground troops engaged in the operation against the terrorists.

According to reports, suspected militants were holed up in forested area on the backside of the air base from where they are reported to have entered.

Explosions rocked the area with high rise smoke clouds coming from the scene of gunbattle amidst heavy exchang of firing in the afternoon and evening between militants and security forces.

(With inputs from PTI)

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