PATHANKOT: After saying all the gunmen who attacked the Pathankot Indian Air Force (IAF) base were dead, Indian officials said at least two attackers remained, and vowed to kill them Monday to end a more than 48-hour siege. At least seven troops and four gunmen have been killed in the fighting so far.
Operations to eliminate two militants are in their final stages, a National Security Guard (NSG) official quoted by Times of India said Monday.
Security officials said they were focusing their search on a two-storey building that contained living quarters for families on the base where the militants had holed up.
Militants were holed up in the air force living quarters, an army official told ANI. Operations are underway to clear the building, he said.
Operations will continue until all assets have been combed, the NSG official said, adding that given the magnitude of the undertaking, a joint operation had been launched.
A military official who asked not to be named said the operation at the base is continuing. "We are moving step by step to sanitise the area and it's too early to say when the operation will be over."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a meeting to discuss the Pathankot air base attack as well as the siege on the Indian consulate in Afghanistan.
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval's China visit was put off in wake of the attack on the Pathankot air base.
The attack on the Pathankot air force base started before dawn Saturday and is seen as an attempt to undo recent improvements in the relationship between Pakistan and India. It comes a week after Modi became the first Indian prime minister in 12 years to visit Pakistan.
On Sunday, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told reporters that the last two gunmen had been cornered and would be "neutralised" soon.
Mehrishi said Indian authorities were alerted about a potential attack in Pathankot, and that aerial surveillance at the base spotted the suspected militants as they entered the compound.
He said they were engaged by Indian troops and were kept away from the base's aircraft and military equipment.
Since Saturday morning, the base has been swarming with air force commandos, troops from India's elite NSG and local police.
A senior air force officer, Air Marshal Anil Khosla, told reporters in New Delhi that the base will not be declared fully secured until the entire area is checked by troops.
The sprawling Pathankot air force base is spread over several kilometres, including some forested sections. It houses a fleet of India's Russian-origin MiG-21 fighter jets and Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters, along with other military hardware.
The Defence Ministry said no aircraft or military equipment had been damaged in the fighting.
The base is on the highway that connects India-held Kashmir (IHK) with the rest of the country. It is also very close to the shared border with Pakistan.
Police do not know if the gunmen came from IHK, where militants routinely stage attacks, or from elsewhere.