Fighting flares up again at Indian base

Indian army soldiers stand guard near the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot in India on Jan 3.
Indian army soldiers stand guard near the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot in India on Jan 3.PHOTO: REUTERS

PATHANKOT (India) • Two suspected insurgents were killed yesterday when fighting flared up again at an Indian air force base, a senior police officer said, a day after the initial bloody raid on the facility close to Pakistan.

Seven soldiers and four attackers were earlier confirmed killed during the assault on the Pathankot base in the northern state of Punjab, which triggered a 14-hour gunbattle last Saturday.

Early yesterday afternoon, security forces came under heavy fire inside the base during a search for munitions and possible militants, sparking fresh fighting.

During the operation, military vehicles including a demining vehicle were seen entering and exiting the walled compound. Dozens of security guards continued their vigil, while protesters shouted slogans and burned a Pakistani flag nearby.

The police officer said on condition of anonymity that the two militants were killed four hours after first contact was made yesterday, but the search would continue before the base was declared safe.

The base commander, Air Commodore J.S. Dhamoon, told reporters separately that the operation was close to completion, but gave no information on any fresh casualties.

The Pathankot air base houses dozens of jet fighters and is important for its strategic location about 50km from the Pakistan border.

"Due to active intelligence and quick action taken by forces, we were able to ensure there was no damage to the assets," Mr Rajiv Mehrishi, a top Home Ministry official, told reporters in New Delhi.

Among the military dead were a lieutenant-colonel in the elite National Security Guard and Mr Subedar Fateh Singh, a gold medallist at the 1995 Commonwealth Shooting Championships in New Delhi.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2016, with the headline 'Fighting flares up again at Indian base'. Print Edition | Subscribe