India says all 6 militants killed in air base siege

2016-01-05 21:06
(Channi Anand, AP)

(Channi Anand, AP)

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Pathankot - Indian forces have killed the last of the six militants who attacked an air force base near the Pakistan border over the weekend, the defence minister said on Tuesday, though soldiers were still searching the base as a precaution.

Manohar Parrikar stopped short of saying the operation had ended, but Indian officials have said repeatedly that only six gunmen were involved.

Parrikar did not explain how just a handful of gunmen managed to paralyse a large Indian air base for almost four days, insisting that security forces had done "a commendable job."

Seven Indian soldiers were killed during the attack.

"I see some gaps (in intelligence) but we will be able to understand everythingafter the investigation. But I don't think we compromised on security," he told reporters after touring the scene of the fighting. He noted that the base is large and is wooded in some places, making it difficult to pin down the gunmen.

Indian officials had been warned beforehand that an attack could be imminent at the Pathankot base and had flown commandoes there in case of trouble. The warning came after the gunmen kidnapped an off-duty policeman near the base two days before the attack began, apparently to steal his vehicle. The policeman was freed the next day and warned security forces that a team of heavily armed militants was in the region.

Parrikar said the militants' weapons included AK-47 assault rifles with makeshift rocket launchers attached, mortar rounds that could be fired from the launchers, pistols, and 50-60kg of ammunition.

In the first known claim of responsibility, the United Jehad Council, an alliance of 13 Kashmir-based rebel groups, claimed that its "highway squad," which normally attacks military convoys, carried out the attack.

Read more on:    india  |  pakistan

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