A Punjab Police SP (detective) was among seven killed in a daring attack on a police station in the state's northern border town of Gurdaspur on Monday morning. Indian army commandos joined the Punjab police in engaging the armed attackers still holed up in the police station in a fiece gunfight while the government confimed that a hostage situation has been defused and security stepped up across the country.
The Associated Press reported that the suspected militants hijacked a car and attacked a bus station before storming into the police barracks in the town bordering Pakistan. Harchanran Singh Bains, a Punjab state government spokesman, told AP that two of the dead were militants.
ANI tweeted that at least one of the attackers was a woman.
Gurdaspur Terror Attack: Injured security personnel says that there is a woman terrorist among the other attackers— ANI (@ANI_news) July 27, 2015
Sequence of events:
NDTV reported that at around 5:30 AM, four armed people wearing Indian army uniform tried to hijack a tempo on a highway near a bus stand in Dinanagar but the tempo owner managed to speed off. A roadside food stall owner was reportedly killed when the attackers opened fire. They also attacked a Chandigarh-bound bus, injuring several passengers in the gunfire.
The attackers then shot at a white Maruti 800, injuring the driver, and fleeing with the car. Their next stop was at the police station in Dinanagar.
Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, while briefing reporters said that the government has extended all help to the Punjab government in this moment of crisis. But he also took a pot shot at the Opposition for refusing to let Parliament fuction.
"Congress does not realize that they are not only harming the country, but also themselves," Naidu said. "They rushed to the well of the House. They should have joined the discussions and given suggestions," he said. ANI reported that Baljeet Singh is the name if the SP who lost his life.
Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal said he is regularly in touch with the security forces comabting the armed attackers. "Militancy is a national problem not a state poblem. There's a need to tackle this through national policy," he said.
Cities across India, including Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik has been put on high alert and curfew imposed in Gurdaspur, according to reports.
In a likely connected incident, police recovered five live bombs on a railway track in the area.
India has tightened security on the border with Pakistan after the attack, according to Reuters. Unnamed police sources told Reuters that the attackers had entered India from Pakistan a couple of days ago in Jammu and Kashmir.
Where do these militants come from? The border, yes? If there was input why wasnt the border shielded?: Punjab CM pic.twitter.com/ewb24AbNEL— ANI (@ANI_news) July 27, 2015
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 the border. "The situation is under control," Singh told reporters.
H.S. Dhillon, a senior Punjab police officer, told Reuters that the dead included both civilians and policemen. However Home Minister Singh refused to announce the toll since operations were still on.
Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said no details can be given at this stage as the operation against perpetrators of the attack is still on. "Operations are still on. So we can't give details. But many MPs requested that the status be given in Parliament. The MPs have given a notice so that they be made aware of the situation," Rudy said.
Television footage showed a white Maruti-Suzuki sedan with its windshield peppered with bullet holes, and broken glass and bullet casings on the passenger seat.
Singh said he was in touch with Badal and confident that the anti-terror operation will be successful.
"I have spoken to the NSA and the Home Secretary. The Operation is still on; I will not make any comments. We will be successful in operation," said Rajnath.
"I am in touch with Punjab CM, NSA, DG BSF. The forces on the border are on alert. I'm fully confident that our operation will be successful," he added.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had earlier said that no hostage situation in the Gurdaspur attack has been reported so far. "The attack is serious. I can't give any details as the operation is still going on. No hostage situation has been reported so far," he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently holding a high level meeting in Parliament with Union Ministers Manohar Parrikar, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu. (With inputs from agencies)