7 Dead In Pathankot Air Force Base Shooting In India, Including An Acclaimed NRA International Member
It's unclear who or what motivated at least four suspects to take violent action at around 3:30 a.m. Saturday in Punjab, but all of the alleged attackers and three members of security forces were killed in a Pathankot air force base attack in India. Very few details have emerged regarding the circumstances, but two security personnel members were reportedly also shot and killed. Indian media has identified two of the officers as Capt. Fateh Singh and Havildar Kulwant Singh. A veteran, Kulwant retired from the army in 2004 and joined the Defense Security Corps two years later. Fateh is a highly respected member of NRA International and had previously won gold and silver medals in the 1995 Commonwealth Shooting Championship held in New Delhi. An Indian Air Force official was also slain, though their identity has yet to be released.
It has been speculated that the attack came in response to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent trip to Pakistan to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on Christmas Day. The impromptu meeting was used to launch a peace initiative between the two countries. Pakistan has condemned the attack and claims no involvement in them. The Pakistan Foreign Office issued a statement calling the incident an act of terrorism:
We extend heartfelt condolences to the government and people of India and the bereaved families and wish the wounded speedy and full recovery. Building on the goodwill created during the recent high-level contacts between the two countries, Pakistan remains committed to partner with India as well as other countries in the region to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting our region.
The Indian government has echoed Pakistan's statements and similarly said that they are committed to continuing to foster peace efforts with the neighboring nation. Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Nalin Kohli had this to say about what transpired in Pathankot in an interview with Voice of America:
Every time there is a movement toward normalization of relationship with Pakistan, these things automatically happen, because these are forces that don’t want peace between India and Pakistan and also in the region. However, as far as India is concerned, we are constantly going to do our best to deal with that situation and ensure that these forces are defeated.
The attack marks the first such terrorist incident of 2016 and the second in the region in just half a year. Gunmen similarly stormed a Gurdaspur police station in July, killing seven. The suspects were ultimately fatally shot by police after a 12-hour standoff.