India’s Home Ministry Says Sixth Militant Killed at Base

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A gold medal-winning Indian shooter was among 10 people killed in a pre-dawn assault on an air force base near the border with Pakistan after a 15-hour gun battle. REUTERS/Mukesh Gupta

PATHANKOT, India, Jan 3 – Another gunman was confirmed killed on Sunday in an operation to clear an Indian air base after a militant attack, a home ministry source told Reuters, bringing the total number of assailants eliminated to six.

“The decision to blow up the one of the administrative units was taken to neutralize the sixth militant. It was also needed to makes sure we destroy live grenades,” the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The source said it was not yet clear whether the air base was now fully secured but efforts were under way to complete the operation before nightfall.

Earlier, gunfire and blasts were heard as security forces hunted the lone remaining attacker in the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot, a day after the raid in which five attackers and six Indian military personnel have now been killed.

News channels cited police in northwestern Punjab state as saying the two gunmen were still holed up in Pathankot air base, more than a day after the pre-dawn raid in which four attackers and six Indian military personnel were killed.

A home ministry official said several blasts had been heard in the facility but could not confirm reports that gunmen were still at large.

Death toll from attack rises

A gold medal-winning Indian shooter was among 10 people killed in an audacious pre-dawn assault on an air force base, officials said on Sunday as troops worked to clear the compound near India’s border with Pakistan after a 15-hour gun battle.

The attack by gunmen disguised as soldiers came a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled visit to Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in an effort to revive talks between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

One of the Indian security members killed in the attack was Subedar Fateh Singh, who won gold and silver medals in the first Commonwealth Shooting Championships held in 1995, the National Rifle Association of India said.

Officials said the attack on the military base, just 25 km (15 miles) from the border with Pakistan, bore the hallmarks of previous suspected assaults by Pakistan-based militant groups, underscoring the fragility of recent efforts to revive bilateral talks between the often uneasy neighbors.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Pakistan condemned the attack and said it wanted to continue to build on the goodwill created by the impromptu meeting between Modi and Sharif last month.

Two security personnel were wounded in a blast on Sunday, a police official in Pathankot said, as troops scoured the base.

Dozens of armed forces stood guard outside the base.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said on Saturday five militants had been “neutralized”, but there were no reports yet of the body of the fifth attacker being found.

In New Delhi, two trains were delayed early on Sunday after officials received information about a possible bomb threat on a train running between the capital and Lucknow to the southeast, railways spokesman Neeraj Sharma said.

Trains were deemed safe and were running on schedule by mid-morning, Sharma said.

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