Pakistani team in India to probe attack on Indian air base
NEW DELHI (AP) — Pakistani investigators arrived in New Delhi on Sunday to help probe an attack on an Indian air force base close to the border with Pakistan in which seven Indian soldiers and six militants died earlier this year.
India says phone intercepts suggest that the gunmen in the Jan. 2 attack on the base in the northern Indian town of Pathankot came from Pakistan. Islamabad said it has arrested several suspects belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad, or Mohammed’s Army, militant group and detained its leader as part of its probe.
Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Nafees Zakaria said the five investigators who arrived in New Delhi would help probe the incident.
Rana Banerji, a top retired Indian intelligence officer, said the investigators’ visit could be a positive development if it helped in gathering evidence leading to the suspects’ conviction by a Pakistani court.
The Pakistani investigative team comprises members of Pakistan’s military and civil intelligence agencies and police, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. The team is scheduled to visit the Pathankot air force base following talks with Indian officials in New Delhi.
India postponed scheduled talks on Kashmir and other issues with Pakistan after the attack while it evaluated actions taken by Islamabad against insurgents.
The assault on the base came days before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan in December in what was viewed as a potential sign of thawing relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
Since their independence from Britain in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, the Himalayan region that both claim in its entirety.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the violence, which began in 1989.
Associated Press writer Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.