India says search continues for attackers at air base near Pakistan border

PATHANKOT, India - Two gunmen were believed to be still on the run Monday, more than 48 hours after they and several others attacked an Indian air base near the Pakistan border.

See Full Article

At least seven troops and four gunmen have been killed in the fighting so far.

On Sunday, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told reporters that the last two gunmen had been cornered on the large base and would be "neutralized" soon.

The attack on the Pathankot air force base started before dawn Saturday and is seen as an attempt to undo recent improvements in the relationship between archrivals India and Pakistan. It comes a week after Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister in 12 years to visit Pakistan.

Mehrishi said Indian authorities were alerted about a potential attack in Pathankot, and that aerial surveillance at the base spotted the suspected militants as they entered the compound. He said they were engaged by Indian troops and were kept away from the base's aircraft and military equipment.

A senior air force officer, Air Marshal Anil Khosla, told reporters in New Delhi that the base will not be declared fully secured until the entire area is checked by troops.

Since Saturday morning, the base has been swarming with air force commandos, troops from India's elite National Security Guard and local police, but officials refused to say how many troops were involved in the fighting and combing operations.

The sprawling Pathankot air force base is spread over 25 kilometres (15 miles), including some forested sections. Defence officials would not say where on the base the fighting took place or where the suspected militants had taken cover, except to say that no aircraft or military equipment has been damaged.

The base houses a fleet of India's Russian-origin MiG-21 fighter jets and Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters, along with other military hardware.

The air force station is on the highway that connects India's insurgency-plagued Jammu and Kashmir state with the rest of the country. It is also very close to India's border with Pakistan.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but is claimed in its entirety by both. Rebels in India's portion of Kashmir have been fighting since 1989 for independence or merger with Pakistan.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the insurgents, a charge Islamabad denies, and the attack is being viewed as a possible attempt to unravel recent progress in the relationship between the two nations.

Police said they do not know if the gunmen came from the Indian portion of Kashmir, where rebels routinely stage attacks, or from Pakistan.

The violence follows Indian Prime Minister Modi's surprise Dec. 25 visit to Pakistan, where he met his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif - a trip that marked a significant thaw in the mostly tense relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

The two also held an unscheduled meeting at the Paris climate change talks last month.

Ahead of Modi's visit to Pakistan, the national security advisers of both countries met in Thailand. The foreign secretaries of both nations are to meet in Islamabad later this month.

The responses to the weekend attack from both countries have been muted so far, with neither New Delhi nor Islamabad giving any indication that the planned talks are under any threat.

All political parties in India condemned the attack, but there were no demands that the government call off the talks with Pakistan. In the past, when it was in opposition, Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party was a vocal critic of engagement with Pakistan.

Associated Press writer Muneeza Naqvi in New Delhi contributed to this report.

PATHANKOT, India - Two gunmen were believed to be still on the run Monday, more than 48 hours after they and several others attacked an Indian air base near the Pakistan border. At least seven troops and four gunmen have been killed in the fighting so far.

On Sunday, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told reporters that the last two gunmen had been cornered on the large base and would be "neutralized" soon.

The attack on the Pathankot air force base started before dawn Saturday and is seen as an attempt to undo recent improvements in the relationship between archrivals India and Pakistan. It comes a week after Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister in 12 years to visit Pakistan.

Mehrishi said Indian authorities were alerted about a potential attack in Pathankot, and that aerial surveillance at the base spotted the suspected militants as they entered the compound. He said they were engaged by Indian troops and were kept away from the base's aircraft and military equipment.

A senior air force officer, Air Marshal Anil Khosla, told reporters in New Delhi that the base will not be declared fully secured until the entire area is checked by troops.

Since Saturday morning, the base has been swarming with air force commandos, troops from India's elite National Security Guard and local police, but officials refused to say how many troops were involved in the fighting and combing operations.

The sprawling Pathankot air force base is spread over 25 kilometres (15 miles), including some forested sections. Defence officials would not say where on the base the fighting took place or where the suspected militants had taken cover, except to say that no aircraft or military equipment has been damaged.

The base houses a fleet of India's Russian-origin MiG-21 fighter jets and Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters, along with other military hardware.

The air force station is on the highway that connects India's insurgency-plagued Jammu and Kashmir state with the rest of the country. It is also very close to India's border with Pakistan.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but is claimed in its entirety by both. Rebels in India's portion of Kashmir have been fighting since 1989 for independence or merger with Pakistan.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the insurgents, a charge Islamabad denies, and the attack is being viewed as a possible attempt to unravel recent progress in the relationship between the two nations.

Police said they do not know if the gunmen came from the Indian portion of Kashmir, where rebels routinely stage attacks, or from Pakistan.

The violence follows Indian Prime Minister Modi's surprise Dec. 25 visit to Pakistan, where he met his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif - a trip that marked a significant thaw in the mostly tense relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

The two also held an unscheduled meeting at the Paris climate change talks last month.

Ahead of Modi's visit to Pakistan, the national security advisers of both countries met in Thailand. The foreign secretaries of both nations are to meet in Islamabad later this month.

The responses to the weekend attack from both countries have been muted so far, with neither New Delhi nor Islamabad giving any indication that the planned talks are under any threat.

All political parties in India condemned the attack, but there were no demands that the government call off the talks with Pakistan. In the past, when it was in opposition, Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party was a vocal critic of engagement with Pakistan.

-----

Associated Press writer Muneeza Naqvi in New Delhi contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • White House to propose boosting defence spending: AP

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The White House will propose boosting defence spending and slashing funding for longtime Republican targets like the Environmental Protection Agency in a set of marching orders to agencies as it prepares its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Source
  • Fact check: U.S. President Trump makes his points with overstated flair

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- In U.S. President Donald Trump's estimation, the U.S. border isn't merely porous, it's "wide open." Darkness and danger are everywhere, even Sweden. American infrastructure isn't just in need of improvement but it's in "total disrepair and decay. Source
  • Trump's speech could be marked by disruption or decorum

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- A presidential speech to Congress is one of those all-American moments that ooze ritual and decorum. The sergeant-at-arms will stand at the rear of the House of Representatives on Tuesday night and announce, in a booming voice, the arrival of Donald Trump before a joint session of Congress by intoning: "Mister Speaker, the President of the United States," just like always. Source
  • Ottawa to reimburse drywall tariffs for Fort McMurray fire victims rebuilding

    Canada News CBC News
    Families forced to rebuild their homes after wildfires devastated Fort McMurray, Alta. last spring will be compensated for having to pay duties on drywall coming into Canada from the United States Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau was expected to make the announcement Monday. Source
  • Mardi Gras crash suspect's alcohol level nearly triple limit

    World News CTV News
    NEW ORLEANS -- The driver accused of plowing into a crowd enjoying a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, police said. The New Orleans Police Department issued a statement identifying the man as 25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto. Source
  • North Korean foursome – allegedly spies – orchestrated Kim Jong Nam assassination before fleeing Malaysia

    World News Toronto Sun
    SEOUL, KOREA, REPUBLIC OF - Four North Korean spies are accused of orchestrating Kim Jong Nam`s murder on the same day they fled Malaysia. South Korea’s intelligence service told lawmakers Monday that four North Korean government spies were involved in the killing of the estranged half brother of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. Source
  • North Korea executes officials with anti-aircraft guns, South's spy agency says

    World News CBC News
    North Korea executed five senior security officials with anti-aircraft guns because they made false reports that "enraged" leader Kim Jong-un, South Korea's spy agency said Monday. The comments by the National Intelligence Service in a private briefing to lawmakers come as Malaysia investigates the poisoning death of Kim's estranged elder half-brother, Kim Jong-nam. Source
  • Seoul says North Korea executes 5 senior security officials

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- North Korea executed five senior security officials with anti-aircraft guns because they made false reports that "enraged" leader Kim Jong Un, South Korea's spy agency said Monday. The comments by the National Intelligence Service in a private briefing to lawmakers come as Malaysia investigates the poisoning death of Kim's estranged elder half brother, Kim Jong Nam. Source
  • Drought, hunger push Somalis to flee amid fears of famine

    World News CTV News
    MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Her eyes glued to the feeble movements of her malnourished baby with protruding ribs and sunken eyes, Fadumo Abdi Ibrahim struggled to hold back her tears in the stifling and crowded feeding centre in Somalia's capital. Source
  • Transgender boy Mack Beggs jeered after winning Texas state girls wrestling meet; Win clouded with criticism

    World News Toronto Sun
    CYPRESS, TEXAS - A mixture of cheers and boos rained down on a transgender prep wrestler after he dominated the Texas state female wrestling meet. Mack Beggs, 17, completed his undefeated season Saturday by winning a controversial Texas state girls wrestling title in an event clouded by criticism from those who believe the testosterone he’s taking as he transitions from female to male created an unfair advantage. Source