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Guns fall silent at Pathankot air force base; search operations still on

Guns fell silent this morning at the air base here even as the operation against terrorists entered its fourth day with security personnel engaged in search and combing operations to sanitise the installation.

Defence sources said that the firing at the air force base in Punjab ceased this morning after the attack that began in the wee hours on Saturday.

However, search and combing operations are on to ensure that the defence installation is properly secured and sanitised, they added.

Security forces had yesterday killed two more Pakistani terrorists inside the Pathankot air base with the government saying that six attackers had thus been neutralised. However, it was not clear whether all the intruders who attacked the base have been eliminated.

Following a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the bodies of four terrorists have been recovered and those of the remaining two would be found.

The number of intruders had been put at six by officials and the figures given by Jaitley implied that all of them have been eliminated. However, none in the government was prepared to say yesterday that no more terrorists were inside the base or that the operation was over.

Combing and search operations will continue till “we are able to fully render the base safe”, NSG IG Maj Gen Dushant Singh had said.

Jaitley, who had attended the NSC meeting along with senior Cabinet colleagues Sushma Swaraj and Manohar Parrikar, had said that all the assets at the base were safe.

Security forces were able to confine the terrorists to the point at which they had intruded and held them at a “reasonable distance” from where the assets were located, the senior minister had added.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the Pathankot attack as well as the strike on the Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan, both probably originating in Pakistan, indications were that next week’s scheduled visit by Foreign Secretary Jaishankar to Islamabad for talks will be put off.

It is likely that the National Security Advisors of the two countries may have an urgent meeting in the next few days after which a call would be taken on the Foreign Secretary-level talks.

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