New gunfire erupts at Indian air force base in Punjab
Iran Press TV
Sun Jan 3, 2016 7:7PM
A fresh gun battle has erupted at an Indian air force base in the northern state of Punjab that had been attacked by suspected militants a day earlier with the loss of about a dozen lives.
According to Indian security sources, soldiers came under fire on Sunday when they were clearing explosives from the heavily guarded site in Pathankot district, which is located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Pakistan border.
Kunwar Vijay Partap, Pathankot's police chief, said that security personnel believe up to two militants were still hiding inside the air base, which houses dozens of jet fighters and is important for its strategic location. "We suspect one or two terrorists are hiding inside. They are firing intermittently."
At least six Indian troops, a senior army officer and four militants have so far been confirmed killed after the initial pre-dawn attack by the militants on Saturday.
Officials said the Saturday assault bore the hallmarks of previous attacks by Pakistan-based militant groups, adding that police were investigating the case. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, however.
The attack came about six months after Indian security forces fought a prolonged gunfight with the militants who attacked a moving bus and stormed into a police station in the town of Dinanagar in Punjab's Gurdaspur district. Indian police said at least four policemen and three civilians were killed in the deadly assault. The militants were shot dead during the gun battle.
The latest developments come as violence, including cross-border fire exchanges, has recently flared up between Indian and Pakistani troops along the disputed de facto border in Kashmir. The two sides have accused each other of provocation.
Pakistan and India have been engaged in hostility over Kashmir ever since their independence from British rule and their partition in 1947. Both neighbors claim the region in full but have partial control over it. Pakistan controls one-third of Kashmir, with the remaining two-thirds under India's control.
Islamabad and New Delhi agreed on a ceasefire in 2003, and launched a peace process the following year. The process was, however, suspended after over 160 people lost their lives in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants. Pakistan has vehemently denied India's claim.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|