Security forces neutralise 6th terrorist in Pathankot attack, body yet to be recovered: Sources
New Delhi: The Pathankot operation which today entered its third day today saw a major breakthrough as security forces neutralised the two remaining terrorists involved in the deadly attacks that left seven security personnel dead and several others injured.
According to senior government sources, the sixth terrorist has also been killed, though the body of the militant is yet to be recovered. Combing operations in search of the two terrorists have continued for over two days now.
Security forces earlier said that the search operations could continue longer as they make a final assault to eliminate the two terrorists who were believed to be holed up in a residential building inside the Air base.
"So far, the security forces have killed 4 terrorists and operation to eliminate two more possible terrorists are in the final stages," Major General Dushyant Singh of the NSG said earlier today. He was jointly addressing a combined media briefing with officials of the IAF, Garud and the NSG.
"Operations for this airbase are going on smoothly. Given the magnitude, joint operations have been launched. Operation to eliminate terrorists being done jointly by NSG and Garud," he said.
The NSG official further stated that the combing operation is underway and indicated that the operation could take a long time given the magnitude of the attack and the vast area. "Combined and synergised operations are underway. Area is very large, combing operations are going on and it might take a long time," he said.
He also assured that all personnel and strategic assets at the IAF base are safe. "Families live here, schools too. Like a mini city here, their safety is ensured."
An Army official addressing the press conference said that the terrorists came well-prepared to sabotage airbase assets. "But I assure you that the assets are now secure," he said.
"Currently operations are in progress to clear the building where the terrorists are holed up," he said.
"Want to compliment agencies participating in this operation, salute personnel who lost their lives or are wounded," the Army official added.
Heavy firing resumed at the IAF base in Pathankot this morning as security forces continued their combing operation to neutralize two more terrorists, believed to be hidden here.
Two loud explosions were heard at around 8 am, prompting exchange of fire from both the sides, a police official said, adding that NSG and Army commandos are conducting a thorough mopping of the entire area where the terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, had been cornered.
Today is the third day of the military operation which has resulted in seven security personnel, including a Lieutenant Colonel of the NSG, being martyred in the gunbattle.
PM Modi chairs high level meeting
Meanwhile a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the ongoing operation in the Pathankot Air Force base is currently underway at his 7 Race Course Road residence.
The meeting is being attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj besides others.
The Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan scheduled for later this month looks in serious jeopardy with strong indications that the government may call off the engagement if evidence emerges that Pakistan's state actors were complicit in the attack on Pathankot's air base.
According to sources, the implications of the attack on relations with Pakistan are also believed to have been deliberated upon in the meeting.