Four soldiers killed in shooting at Indian army base in Punjab

An unknown number of shooters are still at large at the base in Bathinda city, defence sources say.

Indian army soldier
An unknown number of shooters were still at large at Bathinda military station in Punjab state [File: Channi Anand/AP]

A “firing incident” has killed four army personnel at a military station in the Indian border state of Punjab, the army said, adding that a search operation was continuing.

An unknown number of shooters were still at large at the base in Bathinda city, a defence source told Reuters news agency on Wednesday, declining to be named, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

Four soldiers died from gunshot injuries sustained during the shootings, which took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning, an army statement said.

The statement did not mention the circumstances or other details about who was responsible.

The incident was “not a terror attack”, and took place in a canteen, a senior police official in Punjab, S P S Parmar, told Reuters.

The base was sealed off and a joint investigation with the local police was under way, the army statement said, adding that no other injuries and damage to property were reported.

“All aspects including the possible case of involvement of an (assault) rifle along with 28 rounds reported missing two days back are being ascertained,” the army said.

Visuals from Reuters partner ANI news agency showed barricades placed on the road outside the gates of the military station and security personnel deployed outside the boundary wall.

The shootings took place at 4:35am (23:05 GMT), the statement said.

The military station, located about 280km (175 miles) north of capital New Delhi, houses mostly families of soldiers and is a residential army base.

Indian media reports quoted state police officers as saying that the incident in the army camp bordering Pakistan did not appear to be a “terror” attack.

The shooting took place as the state was on a high security alert a day ahead of Baisakhi, a large Sikh and Hindu festival marking the start of the harvesting season.

Punjab has also been on the edge since last month when authorities launched a manhunt for firebrand Sikh separatist preacher Amritpal Singh.

Singh has in recent months rallied a huge following by demanding the creation of Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland, the struggle for which caused deadly violence in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s.

He remains at large, despite a huge dragnet involving thousands of police officers and a statewide internet shutdown that lasted for several days.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies