NEW DELHI: India tightened security on the border with Pakistan on Monday after heavily armed men stormed a police station in the northern frontier state of Punjab, killing at least five people and wounding several others.
Authorities said two police officers and three civilians had been confirmed dead in the ongoing siege in the northern state of Punjab, and at least seven more injured.
The group of about five attackers came in a white Maruti-Suzuki car, dressed in army uniforms, said Harcharan Bains, an adviser to Punjab’s chief minister. The attackers took the vehicle at gunpoint from a roadside “dhaba” restaurant, another local politician told Reuters.
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. What appeared to be improvised explosive devices on railway tracks were also shown.
Armed police were exchanging fire with the gunmen, who were holed up in the police station in Gurdaspur district near the border with Pakistan, officials said. Counter-terrorism teams were on their way to the scene, the government said.
Gunshots could be heard on television as security forces in red turbans surrounded the building in the town of Dinanagar, about 20 kilometres from the international border.
Local police spokesman Rajvinder Singh said “We don’t think there are any hostages. And for now, while the operation is on, it won’t be right to divulge details,” he said.
Five bombs were also found on a railway track in the state, suggesting a attempted coordinated attack, around the time India is marking the anniversary of a near-war with Pakistan in northern Kashmir in 1999.
Police sources said the attackers had entered India from Pakistan a couple of days ago in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, to the north.
Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, said he did not rule out Pakistan’s involvement. “There have been earlier reports of Pakistan infiltration and cross-border mischief in this area,” said Singh, whose constituency in the Jammu region borders Gurdaspur.
Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India since both nations gained independence in 1947, has denied any involvement in insurgencies in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
Federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to the head of India’s Border Security Force and “instructed him to step up the vigil” on the border.
“The situation is under control,” Singh told reporters.