India Military Base: gunfire and blasts renew

  • Libyan Express |
  • Sunday 3 January 2016
Indian forces have been searching the base for remnants of the group that attacked it

Indian forces have been searching the base for remnants of the group that attacked it

 

BBC

Fresh gunfire and an explosion have been heard at an Indian air force base at Pathankot near the Pakistani border, as an operation continues to secure the facility after a deadly attack.

At least four attackers and seven Indian soldiers have died so far.

Indian officials had earlier said the base was secured on Saturday evening, following a 14-hour gunfight.

The attack is being seen as a blow to an apparent peace initiative launched just over a week ago.

Hopes for a thaw in relations were raised after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modipaid a surprise visit to his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry and the US State Department have condemned the attack.

Helicopoters have been involved in the operation to secure the base

Helicopoters have been involved in the operation to secure the base

 

The attack started before dawn on Saturday, when a group of gunmen – wearing Indian army uniforms – entered the residential quarters on the base.

Hours of heavy gunfire followed, and a helicopter was seen firing at the facility. On Saturday afternoon, police said the base had been secured.

However, fresh gunfire was reported at the facility on Sunday morning.

An air force spokeswoman, Rochelle D’Silva, said the military was continuing to comb the area, but gave no further information.

At least one explosion – suspected to have been caused by a grenade – was heard on Sunday. Local news reports said a soldier from a commando unit had been killed while defusing explosives.

A senior Indian police official meanwhile told the NDTV broadcaster on Sunday that up to two attackers might still be alive and at large on the base.

India's Punjab state is on alert following the attack

India’s Punjab state is on alert following the attack

 

The identity of the attackers is not clear. Some Indian security officials suggested the Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed was to blame.

India says the group is backed by Pakistan, but Islamabad denies this.

In July seven people were killed in a similar attack when gunmen stormed a police station in nearby Gurdaspur district. The three attackers in Gurdaspur were killed after a 12-hour standoff with police.

Pathankot air force base is about 430km (270 miles) north of the Indian capital, Delhi and is on the road linking Indian-administered Kashmir with the rest of the country.

Indian-administered Kashmir has seen a long-running insurgency against rule from Delhi, and Kashmir has been a flashpoint in relations between Pakistan and India for nearly 70 years since independence.


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