Indian forces search air base for possible sixth attacker

PATHANKOT, India - There was no gunfire early Tuesday as troops search an Indian air base on the fourth day of a siege looking for a possible sixth gunman involved in a weekend attack that left seven troops dead.

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Air force spokeswoman Rochelle D'Silva said Tuesday "there has been no firing since Monday night at the base" near the border with Pakistan. Indian security forces say they have killed five attackers, with the last one shot dead on Monday.

The search operations at Pathankot air force base will continue until all areas have been completely secured, Maj. Gen. Dushyant Singh, from India's National Security Guard, told reporters. The attack has dragged on since early Saturday morning as troops struggled to find the heavily armed attackers in the sprawling base. At least twice it has appeared that the attack had ended but fresh gunfire and explosions erupted both times.

Four attackers were reported killed by Saturday evening, and at least two were said to have been still exchanging gunfire with troops as of Monday morning. By evening one had been shot dead, Singh said.

The commanding officer of the base, Lt. Col. J.S. Dhamoon, described it as a "mini-city" with homes and a school for the children of the personnel stationed there. It is spread over more than 2,000 acres, including forests and fields.

The base has a fleet of India's Russian-origin MiG-21 fighter jets and Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters, along with other military hardware. Officials said no military hardware was damaged in the fighting.



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