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Fidayeen attack on Pathankot IAF base
Five terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, were killed in a gunfight that lasted nearly 15 hours after they breached a high-security security perimeter and entered a frontline Indian Air Force (IAF) base near Pathankot town in northern Punjab early on Saturday to carry out a Fidayeen attack, police said.
Pathankot/New Delhi: Five terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, were killed in a gunfight that lasted nearly 15 hours after they breached a high-security security perimeter and entered a frontline Indian Air Force (IAF) base near Pathankot town in northern Punjab early on Saturday to carry out a Fidayeen attack, police said.
Police sources said that at least three IAF security personnel were killed and four others were injured in the terror attack that started around 3.30 am. The counter offensive lasted nearly 15 hours.
"I congratulate our armed forces and other security forces on successfully neutralising all the five terrorists in 'Pathankot Operation'," Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted on Saturday evening. "We have also lost security personnel in the Pathankot attack. My heartfelt condolences to their families. We can never forget their sacrifice," the minister said.
Though the firing initially stopped around 9 am after four of the terrorists were neutralized; sounds of firing and grenade explosions were again heard around 11.30 am. The counter-offensive ended after nearly 15 hours as the lone surviving terrorist engaged the security agencies in a gun battle inside the base, located around 250 km from Chandigarh.
The MIG-21 Bison fighter jets, MI-35 attack helicopters, missiles and other critical assets of the IAF at the base were secure and the terrorists were prevented from getting near the technical area where these were stationed, IAF sources said.
The IAF, in a statement in New Delhi, said the terrorists' plan to destroy "valuable assets" was "foiled" due to "effective preparations" and "coordinated efforts".
The IAF claimed that the terrorists were detected by aerial surveillance platforms as soon as they entered the base.
The Western Air Command chief, Air Marshal S B Deo, was on location and personally supervised and coordinated with the Army, NSG and local civil police for exchange of information and operational activities, the statement said. The Punjab Police and its elite SWAT commando units provided the outer cordon to the counter-operations to ensure that no terrorist was able to escape.
Intelligence officials said that the terrorists involved in the fidayeen attack could be from the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) terror outfit. The terrorists, who were in army fatigues, were initially reported to be around four to six. Two IAF attack helicopters and UAVs could be seen assisting security forces in the combing operations. The Pathankot-Jammu highway was put on high alert. The entire area near the IAF station was sealed.
This is the second major fidayeen attack by Pakistani terrorists in north Punjab in just over five months. A terror attack on Dinanagar town in Punjab's Gurdaspur district on July 27, 2015, left seven people dead, including a senior police officer. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar met NSA Ajit Doval and three service chiefs in New Delhi on Saturday to assess the situation in the wake of the terrorist attack. A report from Islamabad said that Pakistan has condemned the terror attack.