NEW DELHI, India, June 14, Reuter: Gunmen killed nine people in a hail of gunfire in a village near the north Indian city of Amritsar, the Press Trust of India said on Tuesday.

The agency quoted official sources in Amritsar as saying about a dozen gunmen burst into the village of Chak Bahmini on Monday night and opened fire.

It gave no further details of what was apparently the worst single violent incident in the northern State of Punjab for three weeks.

More than 1,250 people have been killed in Punjab this year ~ compared to 1,230 in all of 1987 — as the separatists have stepped up their campaign for a homeland they call Khalistan (land of the Pure).

There had been a sharp drop during the past week in the daily death toll as police and paramilitary forces raided freedom fighters’ hideouts following last month’s 10day siege of Amnitsar’s Golden Temple, Sikhdom’s holiest shrine.

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