Two soldiers, 4 gunmen dead in attack on Indian air base

PATHANKOT, India -- Suspected militants entered an Indian air force base near the border with Pakistan on Saturday and exchanged fire with security forces, leaving four gunmen and two Indian soldiers dead, officials and news reports said.

See Full Article

The attack, which was seen as an attempt to undo progress made in the relationship between rivals India and Pakistan, began before dawn, and by late morning it appeared that the violence had ended with the killing of the gunmen by Indian forces. But just two hours later, fresh gunfire erupted.

A helicopter could be seen at around noon firing at an area inside the Pathankot air force base, located about 430 kilometers (267 miles) north of New Delhi. Shots could also be heard from inside the base. No other details were available, and phone calls to Defense Ministry and air force officials went unanswered.

At least four gunmen entered the living quarters of the base early Saturday, but were unable to penetrate the area where fighter helicopters and other military equipment are kept, said air force spokeswoman Rochelle D'Silva.

Press Trust of India news agency cited police as saying that four attackers were killed following an hourslong gunbattle, and that police started an operation to clear a wider area of other possible intruders.

The attack was viewed by many in India as an attempt to unravel recent progress in the country's relationship with archrival Pakistan. The violence came just a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unannounced visit to Pakistan to meet with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif.

Modi's visit was seen as a potential sign of thawing relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. The two leaders also held an unscheduled meeting at the Paris climate change talks last month.

"These kinds of attacks are nothing new and have generally been the outcome of the dispute of India and Pakistan over Kashmir," said Noor Ahmed Baba, a political scientist at Central University in Indian Kashmir's capital, Srinagar.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but is claimed in its entirety by both.

Baba said that there were elements in both countries that would like to see the peace process fizzle out, and that all sides must "exhibit political maturity and sagacity to defeat the vested interests."

Ahead of Modi's surprise visit to Pakistan, the national security advisers of both countries had met in Thailand to discuss issues including peace and security, terrorism, the disputed region of Kashmir and ways to maintain peace along the countries' shared border.

The foreign secretaries of both nations are scheduled to meet in Islamabad later this month.

Pathankot, in Punjab state, is on the highway that connects India's insurgency-wracked Jammu and Kashmir state with the rest of the country. It's also very close to India's border with Pakistan.

Police said they suspected the gunmen who entered the air force base were militants, and were investigating whether they had come from the Indian portion of Kashmir or from Pakistan. Rebels routinely stage attacks in Indian-held Kashmir, where they've been fighting since 1989 for an independent Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Kashmir's insurgents, a charge Islamabad denies. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the violence in the Indian portion of Kashmir.

Pakistan's foreign ministry condemned the attack. "Building on the goodwill created during the recent high level contacts between the two countries, Pakistan remains committed to partner with India as well as other countries in the region to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting our region," it said in a statement.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters that India wants peace with Pakistan, but "if there is any kind of terror attack on India, we will give it a fitting reply."

Early Saturday evening, almost 12 hours after the attack began, India's defense minister, national security adviser and the chiefs of the army, navy and air force met to discuss the situation.

In July, gunmen staged a similar attack at a police station and a moving bus near Gurdaspur, a border town in India's Punjab state. The three attackers then killed four policemen and three civilians before being shot dead by security forces.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • UN envoy says 'door ajar' to negotiated North Korea solution

    World News CBC News
    The UN political chief said Tuesday that senior North Korean officials told him during a four-day visit to the country last week "that it was important to prevent war" over the country's rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Source
  • Assault victim says ex-boyfriend's discharge tells attackers 'He can get away with it'

    Canada News CTV News
    A Newfoundland woman who was beaten by her ex-boyfriend says a judge’s decision to grant a discharge sends a clear message to attackers that “you can do whatever you want as long as you’re going to university at some point. Source
  • North Koreans say it's important to prevent war: UN official

    World News CTV News
    The UN political chief said Tuesday that senior North Korea officials told him during a four-day visit to the country last week "that it was important to prevent war" over the country's rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Source
  • Sold North Korean brides face hard choices in China

    World News CTV News
    WESTERN LIAONING PROVINCE, China -- The North Korean woman drives a motorbike slowly down a narrow lane shaded by tall corn to the farmhouse where she lives with the disabled Chinese man who bought her. Source
  • Wynne says marijuana revenue deal with feds means money for municipalities

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Municipalities can begin discussions with Ontario over costs associated with legalized marijuana in light of a new tax revenue-sharing agreement between the provinces and federal government, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday. Wynne's comments come after Ottawa agreed Monday to give provinces and territories a 75 per cent share of federal excise tax revenues from the sale of legalized pot. Source
  • B.C. premier says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA -- Premier John Horgan says marijuana users in British Columbia could face the same rules as those who smoke tobacco in public. Horgan says his government is still formulating its marijuana policy, but following bylaws that prohibit people from smoking near buildings or public spaces is under consideration. Source
  • 25,700 college students get refund after strike, according to early numbers

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Nearly 25,700 full-time Ontario college students received tuition refunds after a five-week strike derailed their semester. Ontario's Ministry of Advanced Education confirmed Tuesday that 10.3 per cent of Ontario's roughly 250,000 full-time college students asked for, and received, their money back after the strike. Source
  • Man who tricked teen by pretending to be Miley Cyrus' brother gets 6 years prison

    World News CTV News
    CONCORD, N.H. -- Authorities say a New Hampshire man who pretended to be Miley Cyrus' brother to entice a 14-year-old boy to send him sexually explicit photos and videos online has been sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison. Source
  • Iraq PM warns Islamic State might erupt again somewhere else

    World News CTV News
    PARIS - Three days after declaring victory over the Islamic State group, Iraq's prime minister warns that the group's extremists might "erupt again somewhere else" without international co-operation in combatting the militants. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters Tuesday that "we have managed to break them" in Iraq, but added that it's a worry for everyone that IS has "this unfortunate ability to recruit young people very quickly. Source
  • Ontario enshrines Trans Day of Remembrance in law as Nov. 20

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Ontario will officially mark Nov. 20 as an annual Trans Day of Remembrance as all parties agreed to pass legislation Tuesday. New Democrat Cheri DiNovo introduced the private member's bill last year to enshrine the day in law. Source