Dinanagar (Punjab), July 27:
At least 12 people including seven policemen, two prisoners and three civilians were killed and 10 injured when heavily-armed terrorists wearing army fatigues hijacked a car, drove down to this town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, peppered the bus stand with bullets and then stormed a police station — shattering two decades of calm in the state.
Special forces of the army and NSG as well as police commandos took up position around the Dinanagar police station.
This was the first major terror attack in Punjab following the assassination of then chief minister Beant Singh on August 31, 1995.
Monday’s attack began at 5.30 a.m. at Dinanagar town in Punjab’s frontier district of Gurdaspur, close to the India-Pakistan border and near the border with Jammu and Kashmir state.
A gun battle raged between the terrorists, holed up inside the Dinanagar police station, and security forces, including soldiers. Continuous sound of firing and lobbying of grenades could be heard even hours after the first shots were fired by the militants.
The police station, adjoining government hospital, residential quarters inside the police station and nearby private houses were quickly cordoned off by security forces.
Minister of state for home Kirren Rijiju told IANS in Delhi that “as of now there is no information regarding hostages being held. We are looking into it and once I get some more information, I will come out with it”.
The terrorists, numbering four, are believed to have come from Pakistan. They arrived in a Maruti 800 car which they had hijacked after firing at the driver and killing a person in a dhaba nearby. They also fired at people near the Dinanagar bus stand and then attacked the Dinanagar police station, located about 100 metres away.
Eyewitnesses said the terrorists fired on a bus going towards Jammu and later entered the police station.
“We were hit by a burst of gunfire suddenly. I was hit on the shoulder. They are firing indiscriminately every five minutes,” a Punjab police official, who was injured in the attack, told media as he was being taken to the hospital.
The 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 surprised”.
Army and police reinforcements were rushed to the spot.
Punjab Police sources said the incident indicated may be a suicide attack.
The attack took place just a day after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal faced pro-Khalistan slogans while attending a function at Punjab University in Patiala. (IANS)