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"Proud of our Jawans and security forces," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Enemies of humanity who can't see India progress, such elements attacked in Pathankot but our security forces did not let them succeed".
Sources say the attack was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Pakistan-based terror outfit that seeks independence for Kashmir.
Pathankot is the base for MiG-21 Bison fighters and Mi-35 attack helicopters and the terrorists were ordered to blow up aircraft stationed at the air base.
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."
The gun-battle started at 3.30 am when the armed forces -- who had secured the compound following advance information -- detected the advent of the terrorists with the help of aircraft using thermal imaging capability.
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 National Security Guards and army units had moved into the air base on Friday evening following advance information and orders from the Prime Minister's Office.
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.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said India wants "good ties" with Pakistan but will give a "fitting reply" to any terror attack.