A powerful explosion today shook a double storeyed building at the Air Base where two terrorists are still holed up as the operations intensified to flush them out.
As the operation against the terrorists entered the third day, NSG, IAF and Army officers said there was no collateral damage to the strategic Air Force assets.
“Till now, we have eliminated four terrorists and operation to eliminate two more terrorists, possibly is in the final stage of conduct,” Inspector General NSG Maj General Dushant Singh told a press conference here.
Singh, who was flanked by Air officer commanding, Air commodore J S Damoon and Brigadier Anupinder Singh, said “the entire operation will continue till all the personnel, assets, structure are physically combed. So it is likely to take a long time.”
“These terrorists are holed up in a double storeyed building which is a living accommodation of the Air Force personnel and currently the operations are in progress to clear this building from the terrorists,” Brigadier Singh said.
The area of the Air Force base is “very large” where strategic assets of IAF are kept, besides families of IAF personnel and schools are located in it.
“It is a mini city,” the IAF officer said.
He said that the terrorists have come “well prepared” and are “heavily armed” with an aim to target the strategic assets of the Air Force.
The officers said the Army was on general alert since January one following intelligence inputs of a terror strike.
The officer said given the personnel and strategic assets located at the base, combing operations are going on continuously by security forces.
Air commodore Damoon said the AOC-in-C Air Marshal SP Dev is overseeing the operation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, presided over a high-level meeting to discuss the ongoing operation at Pathankot air base to flush out holed up terrorists and the attack on Indian consulate in Afghanistan.
Four terrorists have been neutralised in the operation. while one Garud commando, one NSG officer and five personnel of Defence Security Corps(DSC) were martyred. Seventeen security personnel were also injured.
Lt Col E K Niranjan, a member of the NSG’s Bomb Disposal Squad and a Kerala resident, died yesterday after he sustained injuries while he was trying to retrieve a live grenade from the body of a dead terrorist. Four other security men were also injured in this explosion.
Three Defence Security Corps (DSC) personnel also succumbed to injuries during the intervening night of January 2 and 3. Garud commando Gurusewak Singh and two members of the DSC were killed in the gunbattle on Saturday at the air base, located barely 35 km from the Indo-Pak border.