PATHANKOT (Punjab), Jan 2 (IANS): In a major security breach, terrorists entered a frontline Indian Air Force (IAF) base near this town in northern Punjab early Saturday and engaged the security forces in a fierce gunfight. At least four terrorists were killed by commandos following the attack, police said.
Police sources said that at least two IAF security personnel were killed and four others were injured in the terror attack that started around 3.30 am.
Though the firing stopped around 8 a.m. after the four terrorists were neutralised, sounds of firing and grenade explosions were heard again around 11.30 a.m., making it clear that security agencies were still engaged in a gun battle with one or two more terrorists who could still be hiding inside.
The MIG-21 Bison fighter jets, helicopters, missiles and other critical assets of the IAF at the base were secure and the terrorists were not allowed to get near the technical area where these were stationed, IAF sources said.
In New Delhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: "Any terrorist attack on us from Pakistan, and we will give it a befitting reply."
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal condemned the attack, while the Congress said incidents of terrorism are on a rise in Punjab.
"Why has Punjab suddenly become the hotbed of terror activities in the last few months? The state has been calm for the the last 20 years," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
National Security Guards (NSG) commandos, who had been rushed in here on Friday evening following apprehension of an attack, IAF's Garuda commandos and army commandos led the counter-attack on Saturday against the terrorists who are suspected to have crossed into India from Pakistan through the border area, 30 km from here.
Punjab Police and its elite SWAT commando units provided the outer cordon to the counter operations to ensure that no terrorist is able to escape.
Intelligence officials said that the terrorists involved in the fidayeen attack could be from Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM).
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is in Goa, was monitoring the situation and was in touch with Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and other officers, the ministry sources meanwhile told IANS, adding Parrikar will reach New Delhi soon.
National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval was also monitoring the terror attack from New Delhi, sources said.