Pathankot: Gunmen attack India air force base near Pakistan border

Four gunmen and at least two soldiers have been killed in an overnight attack on an Indian air force base near the Pakistani border, officials say.

Security forces say the operation to secure the Pathankot base is now over, after a battle lasting several hours.

The heavily-armed militants were dressed in Indian army uniforms.

The attack came days after the Indian and Pakistani leaders, Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif met in Lahore to launch a surprise peace initiative.

The whole of India’s Punjab state has been placed on alert.

 

The base is on the main highway leading to Indian-administered Kashmir.

Militant allegation

The gunmen drove a hijacked car when they launched the attack at 03:30 (22:00 GMT Friday).

They entered living quarters at the base, but were contained there and so were unable to cause any damage to military hardware, said air force spokeswoman Rochelle D’Silva.

On Saturday morning, fresh gunfire was heard and a helicopter seen firing at an area inside the base.

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says it is not yet clear who the attackers were – but suspicion is already falling on Kashmiri militant groups based in Pakistan.

Some Indian security officials suggested the Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed was to blame.

India's Punjab state is on alert following the attack
India’s Punjab state is on alert following the attack

Security forces inspected the area around the base
Security forces inspected the area around the base

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

In August 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.

Source: BBC