Pathankot: Suspected Pakistani terrorists today attacked an Air Force Base here in Punjab, triggering an encounter in which four attackers and two IAF personnel were killed and 6 security men were injured.
At least four to five militants, believed to be from the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist group, in army uniform launched the attack in the wee hours with an aim of destroying the air base, a top security official said. A group of militants attacked Air Force base at 3:30 AM this morning, a Defence spokesman said.
The attack was launched soon after a combing operation was carried out by the army yesterday in the area between Air base installation and Chakki river, police said.
The attackers were met with strong resistance from the security personnel who were already alert to the possibility of an attack, top sources said in Delhi, adding that the terrorists therefore could not enter the air base and managed to reach only to the langer area on the outside.
SSP R K Bakshi said that four suspected militants were killed in the battle. Two jawans were also martyred and six sustained injuries.
Security establishment was already on alert and anticipating an attack after an SP of Punjab police was abducted by a group of armed men in army uniform on Thursday night. The attackers thrashed the officer before dumping him from vehicle.
After the incident, the combing operation was launched in the border areas of Pathankot and Gurdaspur district.
The attackers are confined to non-operational area, police said. Helicopters, NSG commandos and SWAT teams have been engaged to kill the militants, police said. The encounter started at 3.30 am, police said.
The strike is believed to be launched by Jaish-e-Mohammad, officials said, adding that the target was to destroy military installations. Efforts are to keep one remaining terrorist confined to a limited area so that no collateral damage is done, police said.
The terrorists, with huge quantity of RDX in their possession, made their way to air force base from back side where there is a jungle, they said.
Meanwhile, authorities said that the helicopters and other equipment at the Air base are safe. The technical area of the air force station is safe, police said, adding that entire area had been cordoned off.
The assailants, who had abducted the SP, had also made calls to Pakistan, police said. The intelligence had alerted about a possible terror attack in the area, officials said.
It is the second big terror attack in Punjab within a year after three militants stormed a police station in Diana Nagar before being eliminated after an encounter in July. The attack comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unscheduled visit to Pakistan.