6 Soldiers Killed, GPS Devices Recovered
Three soldiers who were injured in Saturday's terror attack at the air force base in Punjab's Pathankot district have died in hospital, taking the number of deaths of security personnel to six. All four terrorists were killed after a day-long gun-battle yesterday. Among the weapons recovered from them are AK 47s, mortars, grenade launchers and GPS or Global Positioning System devices.
GPS devices recovered from the terrorists will be scrutinized to decipher the route the terrorists took to enter the base.
The air base in Pathankot, a large military facility from which Russian-made fleet of MiG-21 fighter jets and Mi-35 attack helicopters fly, is still being sanitized. Combing operation is likely to be over by this afternoon.
Security forces wrested the control of the base following a pitched battle through the day. The government has said three security personnel died in the operation. Sources say the number of casualties could be more.
The attack, believed to be carried out by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed that seeks independence for Kashmir, happened a week after PM Narendra Modi's "spontaneous" visit to Pakistan.
Opposition Congress has said India should reassess its position on the neighboring country. Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah called the attack "the first major challenge to PM Modi's bold Pakistan gambit."
Praising the security forces yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Enemies of humanity who can't see India progress, such elements attacked in Pathankot but our security forces did not let them succeed". Home Minister Rajnath Singh had earlier said India wants "good ties" with Pakistan but will give a "fitting reply" to any terror attack.
The gun-battle started at 3.30 am on Saturday. The armed forces -- who had secured the compound following intelligence warning - had detected the advent of the terrorists with the help of aircraft using thermal imaging capability.
Rockets were fired by a Mi-35 attack helicopter to contain the terrorists in the periphery of the air base. Vital air force assets -- MiG-21 Bison fighters and Mi-35 attack helicopters - were safe.
Heavy armoured personnel carriers - which are bullet proof and mine-resistant vehicles to carry soldiers safely into operation areas -- were used to close in on the spot where the terrorists were holed up.
The alarm had been raised after the terrorists used the phone of a Punjab police officer, whose car they had hijacked on Friday, to contact their handlers. The calls had been intercepted by the security forces.