The terrorists had most likely entered the base through a drain that meets the Nalwa Bridge canal that is adjoining to the air base. (AFP photo)
Pathankot: After more than 13 hours, guns finally fell silent at Punjab's Pathankot air base. Following a pitched battle through the day, backed by attack helicopters and state-of-the-art equipment, the security forces had wrested control of the compound. All four terrorists were dead. The security forces sustained three casualties -- including one Air Force Garud commando. The number of deaths could go higher, sources told NDTV.
With the attack coming roughly a week after PM Modi's goodwill visit to Pakistan, opposition Congress said India should reassess its position on the neighboring country. Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah called the attack "the first major challenge to PM Modi's bold Pakistan gambit."
Rockets were fired by a Mi-35 attack helicopter to contain the terrorists in one area. Heavy armoured personnel carriers - which are bullet proof and mine-resistant vehicles to carry soldiers safely into operation areas -- were used to close in on the spot where the terrorists were holed up.
The alarm had been raised after the terrorists used the phone of a Punjab police officer, whose car they had hijacked on Friday, to contact their handlers. The calls had been intercepted by the security forces.
Given the advance information, the forces were able to keep the terrorists confined in the periphery of the air base. The vital air force assets -- MiG-21 Bison fighters and Mi-35 attack helicopters - were safe.