India's Rajnath Singh: 'successful operation' against gunmen in air force base attack

By Marilyn Malara  |  Jan. 2, 2016 at 1:06 PM
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NEW DELHI, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- India's Minister of Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh, lauded a "successful operation" Saturday against five gunmen who opened fire on an Indian air force base.

"The nation is proud of its brave security forces who have always rose to the occasion," he wrote. "I salute our forces on successful operation in P'kot."

Two security personnel, for whom Singh also sent condolences, and one civilian were also killed in the attacks which took place at around 3:30 a.m. local time at the Pathankot Air Force base in northern Punjab, near the Pakistan border.

Early on, four suspected militants were thought to have been killed during a gun battle with police at the Pathankot air force base, India-based CNN-IBN now reports the bodies of five total gunmen have been accounted for. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Indian officials said intelligence points to the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group.

"Pakistan is our neighboring country. We want good relations with not just Pakistan but with all our neighbors," Singh said in an official statement following the attack. "We also want peace but if there is any terror attack in India, we will give a befitting reply. We will hit hard."

The attack came after India Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a surprise trip to Pakistan to visit Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore last week. The move marks the first time an Indian prime minister has crossed the border into Pakistan in over ten years.

Because of loosening tension between the two countries, India government officials did not condemn Pakistan, who reportedly offered a statement of condolences, for the incident.

"Enemies of humanity who can't see India progress, such elements attacked in Pathankot but our security forces did not let them succeed," Modi wrote on Twitter instead.

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