Written by Staff Writer
05 Jan, 2016 | 6:25 am
A Kashmir-based militant coalition has said it carried out the deadly attack on an Indian air force base.The United Jihad Council – a coalition of militant groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir – claimed its “national highway squad” was responsible.
The attack on the Pathankot airbase near the border with Pakistan is seen as an attempt to derail recent peace moves by Pakistan and India.
Indian PM Narendra Modi has held a meeting to discuss the raid.
Five militants and seven Indian soldiers have so far been killed during three days of fighting.The UJC said it wanted to show India that no security establishment was out of reach of militants, and to drive home the point that Kashmiris are the main party to the territorial dispute between India and Pakistan and cannot be ignored.
Over the weekend some Indian security officials suggested the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed was to blame. India says the group is backed by Pakistan, but Islamabad denies this.
Meanwhile, police in Punjab’s Mohali district said they had arrested three men with illegal arms and recovered a Pakistani “SIM card” from them. It is not yet clear whether the men had any connection with the attack, police said.
The Pathankot assault started before dawn on Saturday, when a group of gunmen – wearing Indian army uniforms – entered the residential quarters on the base.
Hours of heavy gunfire followed and a helicopter was seen firing at the facility on Sunday.
The attack is being seen as a blow to an apparent Indo-Pakistani peace initiative launched just days ago.
Hopes for a thaw in relations were raised after Mr Modi paid an unexpected visit to his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry and the US state department have condemned the attack.
The Pathankot air force base is about 430km (270 miles) north of the Indian capital, Delhi, and is on the road linking Indian-administered Kashmir with the rest of the country.
Indian-administered Kashmir has seen a long-running insurgency against rule from Delhi, and Kashmir has been a flashpoint in relations between Pakistan and India for nearly 70 years since independence.
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