(From Press Trust of India)
In the first major terror strike in Punjab in eight years, heavily-armed militants in army uniform Monday sprayed bullets on a moving bus and stormed a police station, killing seven persons, including an SP, and injuring eight others in Dinanagar town, Gurdaspur, bordering Pakistan.
All the three militants were killed in the gunfight with security forces that stretched for more than 10 hours and ended around 5.30 pm.
The terrorists have killed seven persons — three civilians and four policemen including Superintendent of Police (Detective), Baljit Singh, a Punjab provincial service officer, police said.
Official sources said it was too early to say which terrorist outfit had carried out the strike, but finger of suspicion is on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba as the modus operandi of the militants was similar to the attacks in Jammu region in recent past.
According to Punjab Police IG (Counter Intelligence) Gaurav Yadav, SP Baljit Singh succumbed to bullet injuries sustained in the gunfight.
Police said of the eight injured brought to the civil hospital at Gurdaspur, seven seriously injured were referred to Amritsar. They all were aged between 15 and 54 years.
Around seven sharpshooters were deployed in an armoured vehicle to take out the terrorists. Punjab Police personnel said they heard the terrorists shout ‘Allah hu Akbar’ (‘God is great’).
According to police, the attackers first targeted a roadside eatery and took off in a white Maruti 800 with Punjab registration number. They shot dead a roadside vendor near Dinanagar bypass.
They opened fire on passengers of a moving Punjab roadways bus before targeting a community health centre adjacent to Dinanagar police station.
The gunmen barged into the Dinanagar police station and opened indiscriminate fire. The militants also targeted another part of the complex where the families of police personnel reside and hurled grenades.
Dinanagar town is about 15 km from the India-Pakistan border and 25 km from the border of Jammu and Kashmir state. It is about 235 km from Chandigarh.
Additional Director-General of Punjab Police, Dinkar Gupta, told media the “attack took the Dinanagar police by surprise.”
An alert has been sounded along the international border in Punjab and Jammu as the terrorists are suspected to have infiltrated from there, the sources said.
Union Minister of State in the PMO Dr Jitendra Singh said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence is likely behind the Gurdaspur attack.
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 said. “We will not be the first to strike, but if we are hit, we will give a befitting reply.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with Union ministers Manohar Parrikar, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu to discuss the situation.
Security has been tightened in New Delhi, especially in and around the Parliament.
Rail tragedy averted
A rail disaster was averted after five live bombs were found on the Amritsar-Pathankot railway track. The bombs were found by passers-by on a bridge near Parmanand railway station on the Amritsar-Pathankot railway section, who informed security forces.
A police spokesman told media that the army bomb disposal unit had defused the bombs. A train, which was to pass over the track, was stopped just 200 metres from the spot where the bombs had been planted.
Schools, colleges and other institutions were shut in Dinanagar town in view of the incident.
The attack in Punjab was 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.
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