Pathankot: The armed forces launched a sustained combing operation on Monday to ensure no more fidayeen were hidden inside the Pathankot Air Force station. Sources confirmed that six terrorists were killed till Sunday and no more shots had been fired at the Indian soldiers on Monday. However, the operation was on till late on Monday late night just to ensure that a dormant attacker does not take the forces by surprise.
Senior defence officials told TOI that the attackers were holed up inside one of the vacant barracks of the Defence Security Corps (DSC) till Sunday evening. Indian defence forces had destroyed the building after which the firing stopped from the fidayeen.
Given the size of the base – 1,600 acres – the Indian security forces have since been sanitizing the entire campus. Sources said the body of one of the attackers was pulled out of the damaged building late in the evening.
Senior defence and Punjab Police officials said it was likely that the terrorists had come in two batches from the Bamiyal border outpost (BOP) of the Border Security Force (BSF).
“The operation is on. Given the magnitude and size of the airbase, the entire operation is likely to take a long time. That will be till all our personal and strategic assets are safe,” NSG IG Major General Dushyant Singh told reporters in the midst of the operation.
Sitting alongside him, air officer commanding (AOC) J S Dhamoon said the base “is like a city in itself with schools, residential quarters and shops and all of that is secured”. Air Force officials told TOI that on Sunday, the last batch of attackers had been contained in one part of the base, far away from the residential section and key installations.
Several times during the day, Dhruv, the advanced light helicopter, with its close air support, turret gun and infrared jammer, joined the Mi-35 chopper that is already being used since the operation started.
Brigadier Anumendra Bevli, who is leading Army operations, disclosed that six columns of Dogra Regiment were initially deployed and two more were added on Monday. He also revealed that his men had engaged the terrorists in an open field at the base.