NEW DELHI: Indian security forces were Monday battling an armed attack on a police station near the Pakistan border in which at least four people have been killed, three of them civilians.
A police spokesman at the scene in the northern state of Punjab said he had witnessed one security officer being shot, and at least six people had been injured in the ongoing siege.
“We now have reports of at least three dead civilians besides the one police home guard jawan (officer) who was killed earlier,” police spokesman Rajvinder Singh told AFP by phone from the town of Gurdaspur.
“Just five minutes ago, I saw one security officer involved in the operation get shot. I don’t know his condition, but he was immediately rushed to the hospital.
“The operation is on and this is still a live-operation.”
Media reports said three to four attackers wearing army uniforms had opened fire on a bus and hijacked a vehicle before storming the police station.
Five live bombs were recovered from nearby railway tracks and Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he had ordered increased security on the border with Pakistan, although it remained unclear who was responsible for the attack.
Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju said reports the attackers were holding people hostage inside the police station appeared to be 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.
Such attacks are relatively common in the disputed Kashmir region, which is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in full by both.
But neighboring Punjab, a majority-Sikh state, has largely been spared the violence that has plagued Indian Kashmir for decades.
Last November a suicide bomber killed at least 55 people on the Pakistan side of the Wagah border in Punjab, the main Pakistan-India border crossing.
Monday’s attack 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.