Lt Colonel Niranjan Kumar, 3 other jawans martyred during Pathankot combing operation

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Air Force Base Lieutenant colonel Niranjan Kumar and three other defence personnel have been martyred in the combing operations that resumed today at the Pathankot Air Force Base in Punjab where five terrorists were neutralised on Saturday.

During the search operation that resumed at 7:30 am today, the site was being searched when the personnel accidentally set of a discarded explosive which was reportedly hidden in bushes.

However, no reports have emerged of any remaining presence of terrorist in the Air Base.

Gunshots and a blast were heard from the Indian Air Force (IAF) frontier base near Pathankot town on Sunday morning leading to speculation that one more terrorist could still be holed up inside.

While four terrorists, who carried out a Fidayeen attack at the IAF base on Saturday, were killed by security agencies during a gunfight that lasted for 15-hours. There were confusing reports about the fifth terrorist being killed.

The gunshots and blast were heard on Sunday morning during search and combing operation inside the base, the IAF and Punjab Police sources said.

The technical area, where the IAF’s MIG-21 fighter jets, MI-35 attack helicopters and other critical assets were stationed, was secure, they said.

A thorough search and combing operation continued at the Indian Air Force (IAF) frontier base near Pathankot town on Sunday following Saturday’s terror attack.

Security agencies, including the Army, National Security Guards (NSG), Indian Air Force, para-military forces and Punjab Police were involved in the massive search operation inside the IAF base and nearby areas.

IAF helicopters could be seen flying over the base and nearby areas through the night and since early Sunday to assist ground forces in the operations.

“The search ops are continuing. Everything is being looked at minutely. The operation will end only after this is completed,” a senior Punjab Police official told media.

Security agencies were particularly investigating the local support that the terrorists got in the area after entering Indian territory from the border belt with Pakistan on December 30-31. The border is about 30 km from here.

At least four terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, were killed in a gunfight that lasted over 15 hours after they breached a high-security perimeter and entered the IAF base in northern Punjab early on Saturday to carry out a Fidayeen attack.

Uncertainty prevailed on the number of terrorists being killed in the attack on the Pathankot air base, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh withdrawing a tweet putting the number at five.

“I congratulate our armed forces and security forces on successfully neutralising all the five terrorists in ‘Pathankot Operation’,” Rajnath Singh had tweeted on Saturday evening.

The tweet was, however, withdrawn soon after. At the time of the initial tweet, the number of terrorists being killed was placed at four.

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