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2 more terrorists killed, operations on

By The Assam Tribune

PATHANKOT, Jan 4 - Three days on, security forces today neutralised two more terrorists holed up in the Pathankot air base as the attack raised questions over the fate of the Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan next week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today chaired a meeting of the National Security Council which discussed the attacks on Pathankot air base and the the Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan.

Neither anyone in the Government nor those involved in the counter-terror operations were still ready to declare a closure to the attack in Pathankot as they declared that the �operations are still going on�.

National Security Guards Inspector General Maj Gen Dushant Singh, who had earlier said four terrorists have been killed, told the media in the evening that they have been able to eliminate a fifth terrorist.

�The operations are still going on. We have been able to eliminate the fifth terrorist. Combing and search operations are going on. Given the magnitude of the operation of the air base, the operation will continue to be concluded till we are able to fully render the base safe,� he said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who briefed the media in New Delhi on the meeting of the National Security Council, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said four bodies have been recovered and �the remaining two bodies will be recovered�.

Jaitley said the security forces were able to confine the terrorists to the place where they intruded and kept at a �reasonable distance� from where the assets were located. �All the assets are safe,� he said.

As the Government is said to be considering various options regarding the foreign secretary-level talks in the wake of what is widely believed to be an attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group, the Finance Minister parried a question on whether the talks will go on.

�The operations are still on. Let the operations be over. Then we will take decisions on these matters,� Jaitley said.

Asked if there was a link between the two attacks, he said it was too early to say anything.

Since Saturday, conflicting versions on the number of terrorists killed and those of the security forces had been circulating. Briefing the media in the evening, Maj Gen Singh said security forces, including the NSG and Army have deployed major combat elements along with medical and administrative support.

Similarly Air Force has deployed all its assets - aviation, surveillance, guards in this particular operation, he said adding that the police and the intelligence agencies are also working in sync to make the operation successful.

�As I highlighted earlier, given the magnitude of the operation of the air base, the operation will continue to be concluded till we are able to fully render safe the base. However, I would like to inform that all the assets of the air base including personnel, families have been secured and are safe,� he said.

Earlier in the day, a powerful explosion shook a double storeyed building at the Air Base where two terrorists were holed up.

�Till now, we have eliminated four terrorists and operation to eliminate two more terrorists, possibly is in the final stage of conduct,� Maj Gen Singh had said.

Singh, who was flanked by Air officer commanding, Air commodore J S Damoon and Brigadier Anupinder Singh, said �the entire operation will continue till all the personnel, assets, structure are physically combed. So it is likely to take a long time.�

�These terrorists are holed up in a double storeyed building which is a living accommodation of the Air Force personnel and currently the operations are in progress to clear this building from the terrorists,� Brigadier Singh said.

The area of the Air Force base is �very large� where strategic assets of IAF are kept, besides families of IAF personnel and schools are located in it. �It is a mini city,� the IAF officer said.

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