Sound of loud explosion could be heard from inside as search and combing operations by security forces continued at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base here on Monday, nearly 55 hours after terrorists launched an attack on the frontline facility in Punjab.
Police sources stationed at the air base said that the firing could be linked to the mopping operation as security forces were trying to secure the area.
Firing could be heard during the night and early Monday morning also. The terrorist attack had started at 3.30 a.m. on Saturday.
“Combings operation continued (on Sunday). This operation is at the completion stage. The operation will continue till the whole air base has been cleared of any intruders,” Air Commodore J. S. Dhamoon, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) of the Pathankot Air Force Station told the media.
NSG and army commandos conducted a thorough mopping of the entire area where the terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, had been cornered, police said.
IAF helicopters flew through the night over the air base to assist ground forces in the counter offensive against the terrorists.
“Army and para-military forces have surrounded the entire air force base, which is spread in a huge area and has undulating terrain, buildings and forest area which has to be searched very carefully to avoid casualties. That it why the operation is taking longer time to complete,” a Punjab Police officer said, adding that steps were being taken to ensure that no terrorist is able to escape from the area.
Four terrorists were killed by security forces on Saturday after a 15-hour long gunfight in which the NSG, Indian Army and IAF commandos were involved, assisted by IAF helicopters.
A gunfight between two more terrorists and security forces continued through Sunday.
The fate of these two terrorists and whether there are more terrorists inside the air base is still not known as security officials were tight-lipped about operational details.
Search operation was also being conducting in nearby villages to ensure that no more terrorists were hiding anywhere.
Seven security personnel, including one official of the National Security Guard, one IAF Garud commando and five Defence Services Corps (DSC) personnel were killed in the counter-offensive against the terrorists.
Twenty security personnel, including 12 from NSG and eight from IAF, have been injured. One securityman, who was grievously injured, was airlifted to Chandigarh on Sunday for treatment.
Smoke could be seen coming out of the IAF air base in Pathankot, 250 km from Chandigarh, on Sunday evening as the gunfight moved to an end.
The terrorists failed to destroy IAF assets due to timely action by security forces, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said in New Delhi on Sunday.