News / Asia

    Ten Dead After Gunmen Attack Indian Air Force Base

    An Indian armored vehicle moves near an Indian air force base in Pathankot, 430 kilometers (267 miles) north of New Delhi, India, Jan. 2, 2016. Gunmen attacked the air force base near the border with Pakistan early Saturday.
    An Indian armored vehicle moves near an Indian air force base in Pathankot, 430 kilometers (267 miles) north of New Delhi, India, Jan. 2, 2016. Gunmen attacked the air force base near the border with Pakistan early Saturday.
    Anjana Pasricha

    Ten people were killed at an air force base in India's northern Punjab state in a terror attack that is being seen as an effort to derail recent peace efforts between India and Pakistan.

    Officials said four gunmen and six security personnel were killed when gunmen dressed in army uniforms mounted an attack early Saturday at the air base in Pathankot town, about 50 kilometers from India’s border with Pakistan and about 430 kilometers north of New Delhi.

    Gunbattle

    Indian forces backed by tanks and helicopters regained control of the compound after a 15-hour battle.

    The attackers used an Indian police officer's car, which was apparently hijacked the previous evening, to infiltrate the air force facility.

    Additional forces were rushed in, elite commandos searched the base, and helicopters made a reconnaissance of the town amid concern that some of the attackers may have escaped. Sporadic gunfire could be heard through the afternoon.

    An Indian air force chopper on a reconnaissance mission flies over the Indian airbase in Pathankot, 430 kilometers (267 miles) north of New Delhi, India, Jan. 2, 2016.
    An Indian air force chopper on a reconnaissance mission flies over the Indian airbase in Pathankot, 430 kilometers (267 miles) north of New Delhi, India, Jan. 2, 2016.

    Security has been stepped up at defense bases and other areas in the country.

    Officials said they are still trying to identify the attackers. However, some Indian security officials say they believe the attackers are members of Jaish-e-Mohammed (The Army of Mohammed), a militant group based in Pakistan that wants independence for Indian-ruled Kashmir.  

    Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in carefully worded televised remarks: "Pakistan is our neighbor and we want peace, not just with Pakistan but with all our neighboring nations. We also want peace, but if terrorists carry out attacks on Indian soil we will give them a befitting reply."

    “Whoever is finally identified, it will be the same Pakistan-based terror formations and these have long experience of attacking military and police establishments," said Ajay Sahni, the head of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi.

    Last year, at least seven people, including police officers, were killed in an attack on a border town in Punjab. India said the gunmen involved in that incident were militants who had infiltrated from Pakistan.

    Modi, Sharif meet

    The latest attack comes just a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a historic, unannounced visit to Pakistan to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif -- the first such visit by an Indian prime minister in more than a decade.

    The visit was seen as an effort to revive a flagging peace process.

    India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir's independence from India and its merger with Pakistan.  Islamabad denies the charge.

    Analysts and officials say peace moves by the political leadership of the two countries in the past have often been followed by an escalation in terror strikes.

    Pathankot, India
    Pathankot, India

    Nalin Kohli, a spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, suggested India will persevere with peace efforts.

    “Every time there is a movement toward normalization of relationship with Pakistan, these things automatically happen, because these are forces that don’t want peace between India and Pakistan and also in the region," Kohli said. "However, as far as India is concerned, we are constantly going to do our best to deal with that situation and ensure that these forces are defeated.”

    It is the second terror strike in Punjab in the past six months – in July, gunmen stormed a police station close to the border town of Gurdaspur, killing at least seven people, including police officers.  India blamed that attack on militants who had infiltrated from Pakistan.

    Punjab, along with the disputed region of Kashmir, shares a border with Pakistan.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: sami shahid from: Pakistan
    January 03, 2016 2:29 PM
    Now when India and Pakistan are just about to start a negotiation process....Indian intel has gone crazy and is trying its best to sabotage the peace process...
    Shame on the Indian military ! Seems like Indian nuclear's are not in the safe hands....

    by: Indian from: USA
    January 02, 2016 6:14 PM
    Shame on Pakistan.. Not able to control ISI and these notorious terrorist organizations.. India should beef up the security.. if armed base is not safe what else?

    by: Ravi from: Hyderabad
    January 02, 2016 3:51 PM
    As the other person said, these are not 'gunmen'. They are terrorists. The word 'Gunmen' is reserved for a white terrorist in the US. Here these are Pakistani (not white) people creating terror in an otherwise peaceful region of Punjab. People of this region have shed lives for the benefit of others both out of the love for their country (India) and their masters around the globe (starting from the atrocities of the British regime in 1857 and to the World Wars I and II).

    by: Nagina Arshad
    January 02, 2016 3:30 PM
    How long it takes to review

    by: Mazo from: India
    January 02, 2016 9:57 AM
    What do you mean "gunmen" ? Why don't you have the courage to call them what they are - TERRORISTS ?
    In Response

    by: Ankur
    January 02, 2016 7:08 PM
    When would media start to use same standards for terrorists irrespective of their sponsors?
    In Response

    by: Rudy
    January 02, 2016 4:55 PM
    Mazo is right
    In Response

    by: Dr Munendar Kumar Sharma from: India
    January 02, 2016 1:43 PM
    it took 9/11 to occur before US understood the danger, till that time even OSAMA was trained by US. it will hurt back to US to call just gunman to terrorists.specially pakistani Terrorists

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