9 dead after gunmen storm police, bus stations in Punjab

A 12-hour standoff between Indian police and unidentified assailants, who stormed police stations, has ended with law enforcerment prevailing. At least six people, civilians and officers, and three assailants were killed in the operation.

Three civilians and three police officers were killed in the attack, the home ministry confirmed to Reuters. 

Three assailants were killed by police officers during a standoff, with one attacker managing to flee, a senior government source said.

Local police spokesman Rajvinder Singh says he saw a security officer get shot during the incident.

"I don't know his condition, but he was immediately rushed to the hospital. This is still a live-operation," Singh said.

Police brought in reinforcements and cordoned off the area after the attackers managed to take over the police station. Army commandos and a Quick Response Team (QRT) have also been called in.

Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju said earlier reports about hostages inside the police station were false.

"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.

The terror attack began at around 5:00am local time when the gunmen first opened fire on a bus near the Punjab-Jammu Kashmir border. The gang of armed men wearing camouflage uniforms then hijacked a car and drove to the police station.

As the attack was unfolding, authorities found five explosive devices wired to a railway track some five kilometers from Dinanagar. Train traffic on the Amritsar-Pathankot section of the track was halted and schools and colleges were closed. According to the Hindu, a train heading for the spot managed to stop just 200 meters from the explosives, which averted even more civilian casualties.

According to police sources, the attackers entered India from Pakistan two days ago. However, a senior government source denied Pakistan’s involvement.

"There have also been earlier reports of Pakistan infiltration and cross-border mischief in this area," said Singh.

Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Salahuddin said the attackers are not “Kashmiris.”

“According to my information definitely not... They could be home-grown militants," he told Reuters by telephone.

Pakistan condemned the attack “in the strongest terms,” their Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Deadly assaults are typical for the Kashmir region, which is disputed by India and Pakistan.

Punjab is the only state in India with a majority Sikh population, which has repeatedly been demanding independence over the years. In the 1980s, India had to subdue a Sikh insurgency in the state.