11:26 am - Sunday November 8, 2015

Four killed as terrorists storm Punjab police station

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India tightened security on its border with Pakistan on Monday after terrorists dressed in army uniforms stormed a police station in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, killing at least four people and injuring several others. The dead included two civilians and two policemen.

Unconfirmed reports, however, put the death toll at eight.

A group of three to four attackers came in a white Maruti car after hijacking it from the Old Pathankot-Gurdaspur road and opened fire at the police station around 5.30am.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to the head of the Border Security Force and “instructed him to step up the vigil on India-Pakistan border”. Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said reports the attackers were holding people hostage inside the police station appeared to be false.The incident took place 11km away from Gurdaspur city — close to the India-Pakistan border — and 80km away from Amritsar.

Television footage showed the white Maruti car with its windshield peppered with bullet holes, and broken glass and bullet casings on the passenger seat.Four passengers of the bus attacked by the terrorists were injured and hospitalised, SSP Gurdaspur Gurpreet Singh said.

The attackers then entered the Dinanagar police station and opened fire at policemen. The gunfight later moved quarters near the police station.

Five bombs were also found on a railway track in the state, suggesting a coordinated series of attacks around the time India is marking the anniversary of a near-war with Pakistan in northern Kashmir in 1999.The home minister spoke to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on the Gurdaspur siege. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with Union ministers Manohar Parrikar, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu to discuss the situation.

The attack in Punjab was eerily similar to attacks in the border belt of Jammu, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted. “Will be very interested to see what emerges about the identity of the terrorists involved in the Gurdaspur attack this morning,” Abdullah tweeted.

Army commandos and a Quick Response Team (QRT) were called in to tackle the situation.

India observed the Kargil Diwas on Sunday to salute its soldiers who fought against Pakistani troops and guerrillas who sneaked into Jammu and Kashmir in 1999.

The incident comes weeks after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif spoke for about an hour during a summit in Russia, raising hopes of an improvement in perennially difficult relations.

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