Suspected Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists from Pakistan on Saturday attacked an Air Force base in Pathankot, killing three security personnel while five terrorists were killed in an operation that lasted more than five hours, an attack that comes just a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled visit to Lahore.
The air base is located near the border with Pakistan.
“The gunbattle between terrorists and security forces ended after more than five hours. However, the area was not sanitised yet and the combing operation continues,” Punjab Police ADGP (Law and Order) HS Dhillon.
The attack came close on the heels of an upswing in India-Pakistan ties after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise trip to Lahore last month and held talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif.
The terror attack in Punjab is “the first major challenge to PM (Narendra) Modi’s bold Pakistan gambit,” tweeted former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah soon after the terrorists stormed the Pathankot air force.
“The BJP now has to sidestep its previous ‘terror & talks can’t go together’ and insulate the Indo-Pak dialogue from such attacks,” Abdullah said in a tweet.
The BJP now has to sidestep its previous "terror & talks can't go together" & insulate the Indo-Pak dialogue from such attacks. #Pathankot— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) January 2, 2016
The Congress party expressed concern that the attack came despite attempts to restore peace with Pakistan and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should take up the issue with the neighbouring country.
“Strongly condemn terrorist attack on Pathankot AirForce Base.My deepest condolences to families of the brave soldiers martyred in the attack,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Strongly condemn terrorist attack on Pathankot AirForce Base.My deepest condolences to families of the brave soldiers martyred in the attack— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) January 2, 2016
“It is a matter of serious concern, we urge PM Modi to take up the matter with Pakistan,” Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala told ANI.
“Sad that this happened after some efforts were made to restore peace with Pakistan,” senior Congress leader Amarinder Singh said.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said he was “very sad” to hear about the terror attack in Pathankot.
V sad to hear about terror attack in Pathankot.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 2, 2016
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar will hold a high-level meeting on the Pathankot attack with security officials in the evening.