Gunfire and blasts were heard on Sunday at an Indian Air Force base attacked by militants a day earlier, as security forces hunted two gunmen still at large in the sprawling facility.
A senior federal police official confirmed the gunmen were still holed up in Pathankot air base in Punjab state, a day after the pre-dawn raid in which four attackers and seven Indian military personnel were killed.
Indian leaders had already praised the armed forces for their heroism in Saturday’s 15-hour shootout, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying they did not let the “enemies of humanity” who attacked the base succeed.
But that appeared premature on Sunday, as the operation resumed to secure the air base.
Outside the base, rumours had circulated all morning that more gunmen were still active after Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced on Saturday that five terrorists had been “neutralised”. The official body count was only four, however.
Military vehicles were seen entering and exiting the walled compound, including a demining vehicle. Dozens of security guards continued their vigil.
One of the Indian security men killed in the attack was Subedar Fateh Singh, who won gold and silver medals in the first Commonwealth Shooting Championships held in 1995, the National Rifle Association of India said.
Most of the Indian military reported killed had retired from active service and belonged to the Defence Security Corps, a unit that staffed by veterans no longer in active service.
“The casualties were unacceptably high,” said Nitin Gokhale, a defence analyst and journalist who said that intelligence on a possible attack had not been circulated in time to alert the sentries at the base.
Police have said the gunmen had earlier hijacked a police officer’s car and driven it to the base. It took 12 hours for information on the hijacking to be circulated, according to news reports, allowing the attackers to keep the initiative.
In New Delhi, two trains were delayed early on Sunday amid heightened security concerns after officials received information about a possible bomb threat on a train running between the capital and Lucknow to the southeast, railways spokesman Neeraj Sharma said.
Trains were deemed safe and were running on schedule by mid-morning, Sharma said. (Reuters)