CHANDIGARH, India, July 7, Reuter: Gunmen killed at least 72 Hindus in two ambushes
in North India within 24 hours, police said today.
At least 34 Hindus died in a night attack on two buses on a main highway in northern Haryana State, police said.
The attack came just 24 hours after Sikh gunmen in another night raid killed 38 bus passengers in Punjab State.
Police said: that in the latest attack two buses, travelling in opposite directions, was stopped as they passed on a bridge.
The gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons, killing 30 passengers in one bus and four in the other, a Haryana state police spokesman here told Reuters.
They said 15 people were injured.
Police said they believed the attacks were carried out by the same group responsible for Monday night’s ambush of a bus in Punjab in which 38 Hindus and one gunman were killed.
This was the worst massacre in the Punjab since a campaign five years ago was started for a separate Sikh homeland.
After the first attack, security forces across northern India were put on maximum alert and the army placed on standby to assist police maintains order in New Delhi.
The Press Trust of India (PTI), quoting authorities sources, said the alert had been extended throughout India until the scheduled Presidential election on July 13.
The second attack took place on national highway no. 10 in Haryana’s Hissar district about 10 km (six miles) from Fatimabad, a small market town in India’s wheat belt.
Police said five gunmen armed with at least four submachine guns and one pistol stopped the buses, singled out Hindu passengers and opened fire. The gunmen then fled in a jeep and a car.
Police noted the pattern was similar to Monday night’s shooting in which five or six gunmen forced the bus to stop on the main Chandigarh to Delhi highway.
They took over the bus at gunpoint from the Sikh driver and drove to a secluded spot before firing at the passengers in their seats. One gunman was apparently shot accidentally by his comrades and his body was found later in an abandoned getaway car.
Punjab Police Chief Julio Ribeiro told reporters the driver has been detained for questioning.
It was the fourth time in less than a year that gunmen had attacked public buses. In previous attacks last November and July, 38 people, mostly Hindus, were killed. No arrests have ever been made for the past attacks.
All three buses were operated by Haryana Roadways, the State transport company. While nighttime bus service in Punjab has been suspended, Haryana buses had been operating but officials later today halted night service in their state.
Political leaders in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir called for general strike in protest against the bus killings. Schools were ordered closed in Haryana and shops in Chandigarh closed after the first attack.
The rightwing Hindu assemblies in the Capital, said members would march on Gandhi’s heavily guarded residential compound in southern New Delhi tomorrow.
Article extracted from this publication >> July 10, 1987