NEW DELHI: Suspected militants staged a pre-dawn attack on a key Indian air base near the Pakistan border Saturday with at least two militants killed in a shootout, officials said, striking a blow to the neighbours’ fragile peace process.
At least four gunmen alleged to be from Jaish-e-Mohammed group dressed in army uniforms infiltrated Pathankot air base in northern Punjab state at around 3:30 am.
An operation to secure the base was still ongoing 12 hours after the attack — a rare targeting of an Indian military installation outside disputed Kashmir — as special commandos combed buildings looking for militants still hiding out.
It comes a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a surprise visit to Pakistan, the first by an Indian premier in 11 years, and threatens to derail talks between the nuclear-armed rivals, who have fought three wars since independence in 1947.
“We want peace but if terrorists carry out attacks on Indian soil we will give them a befitting reply,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in televised remarks.
“At least two of the attackers are dead,” regional police chief Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh said, adding that six to seven security officers were injured, some critically.