Defence minister Manohar Parrikar will hold a high-level meeting with security officials on Saturday evening following a terror attack on the Indian Air Force base in Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot district of Punjab early Saturday.
The security counter-operation that followed the attack at 3.30am ended around 9 am after the five militants were killed before they could inflict any damage on Air Force assets such as helicopters or fighter planes.
Parrikar, who was in Goa, was monitoring the situation and was in touch with Air Force Chief Arup Raha and other officers. He reached Delhi later in the evening and conducted a meeting with security officials.
Meanwhile, home minister Rajnath Singh was quoted by ANI as saying that any aggression towards India will receive a befitting reply from ‘our side’.
National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval was also monitoring the terror attack from New Delhi, sources said.
The IAF base is around 250 km Chandigarh and about 30 km from the border area with Pakistan.
Police have cordoned off the area and army has been called in. The number of terrorists, who were in army fatigues, were reported to be around four to six.
The gunfight has stopped but the area was still being sanitised and the exact number of terrorists that were killed will be known once the combing operations were over, an army official said.
“Though firing is over but the complete area is not sanitised. There is always possibility of one terrorist hiding and waiting in a different area. Keeping that in mind operations continue till complete area is sanitised,” the official said.
The security forces repulsed a major attack by the terrorists who had planned to damage the frontier air force base where fighter squadrons were stationed.
“The terrorists were contained in one area of the air force station. They could not reach near the technical area of the air force station where IAF aircraft and other assets are located,” said a Punjab Police official stationed near the IAF
There were intelligence reports that terrorists could attack defence installations in the region around the New Year.
Based on Friday’s development, the army sounded an alert and had placed two-army columns and a special force team in the Pathankot base prior to the attack, an army spokesperson in New Delhi said.
“NSG team has also teamed up with them to foil the terrorist plans; local Brigade Commander of Army is coordinating the operations; in addition UAVs of the army and IAF have also been put into action to get inputs,” the spokesperson added.
The technical area where MiG-29 fighter aircraft and helicopters are kept was safe.
The security forces were already on high alert in the past 24 hours after an incident in a nearby area where a senior police officer was abducted in his car late Thursday but released later.
Two IAF helicopters could be seen assisting security forces in combing operations.
The Pathankot-Jammu highway was put on high alert. The entire area near the IAF station was sealed.
“High alert has been sounded in Kathua district and entry into the state from neighbouring Punjab at Lakhanpur is being monitored and checked,” said a senior police official in Jammu.
The army has been moved out on the highway to ensure no militant could sneak into Jammu and Kahsmir, the defence sources said.
Security forces were put on high alert in Pathankot in Punjab’s frontier district Gurdaspur on Friday after a senior police official said he and his associates were kidnapped by five armed men in army fatigues.
Terrorists from Pakistan had launched a terror attack on Dinanagar town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district on July 27, 2015 leaving seven people dead, including a senior police official.