BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Urdu Hindi Pashto Bengali Tamil Nepali Sinhala
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: South Asia  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK
Indian troops end temple siege
Indian security forces besiege the temple complex
An elite team of commandos was sent in
The siege at a Hindu temple in Gujarat state has ended after Indian troops stormed the building and shot dead two gunmen who had killed more than 30 people.

About 70 "Black Cat" commandos moved in overnight to end the 12-hour siege at the Swaminarayan Temple in the state capital, Gandhinagar.

One commando was also killed in the ensuing gun battle and others were reported injured.


Our enemy has been speaking of Gujarat in recent times and ... it seems that the plan was on for quite some time

LK Advani
Indian Deputy Prime Minister

The Indian Deputy Prime Minister, Lal Krishnan Advani, who went to the scene, indirectly blamed Pakistan for the attack - but Islamabad has condemned the killings and denied any involvement.

Indian leaders have appealed to the people of Gujarat to remain calm and the army has announced it is sending in 3,000 troops.

Hundreds of people died in Gujarat in February and March this year in India's worst religious bloodshed in a decade.

'Planned'

"The two attackers were killed shortly after daybreak," said Brigadier Raj Sitapathy, who led the assault.

He said the "bloodbath" - the victims included 13 men, six women and four children - had occurred in a prayer hall.

Map showing Gandhinagar
The two attackers were carrying letters pouring "venom" on India, Brigadier Sitapathy told the BBC before suggesting they belonged to a Pakistani-based militant group called Tehrik-e-Kasak - a front, he said, for the outlawed Lashkar-e-Toiba.

But he said it was too early to say they were Pakistani nationals.


Akshardham temple, Gandhinagar
Temple facts:
  • Owned by one of India's richest Hindu sects
  • Built 10 years ago by nearly 1,000 craftsmen
  • Made of 6,000 intricately carved blocks of pink sandstone
  • Visited by two million people every year
  • Without giving details, the deputy prime minister, however, said Islamabad was behind the attack.

    "Our enemy has been speaking of Gujarat in recent times and even last week our enemy spoke of Gujarat in the United Nations, so it seems that the plan was on for quite some time," Mr Advani told reporters at the site of the attack.

    He was referring to Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf's speech at the UN, where he called for "accountability" for the violence that has rocked Gujarat this year.

    But a Pakistani government minister has blamed the Indian Government for failing to build a tolerant society in Gujarat.

    Indiscriminate shooting

    Eyewitnesses told of the bloodshed inside the temple complex as the men opened fire with assault rifles.


    I didn't know what was happening. Thank God I am alive

    Eyewitness
    "We were sitting under a tree when they started firing indiscriminately. People started running here and there," said Balwant Shukwant Patel, 25.

    One volunteer, his clothes stained with blood, said he had brought out about 20 casualties, although he was not sure how many of them were dead.

    Injured person carried to safety
    Dozens of worshippers were injured
    Policemen and priests were among the wounded.

    Gujarat witnessed widespread religious violence earlier this year when Muslim mobs were accused of setting fire to a train carrying Hindu activists.

    More than 1,000 people - mainly Muslims - were killed in the ensuing rioting. Some estimates put the figure as high as 2,000.

    The Swaminarayan organisation, part of the Hindu faith, was formally established in 1907. It preaches religious tolerance and practical spirituality.

    Around two million people visit the temple in Gandhinagar every year where the complex is spread over 23 acres (10 hectares).

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava
    "I've been in the temple most of the night"
    Gujarat conflict in-depth

    Key vote

    Tense state

    Background

    BBC WORLD SERVICE

    TALKING POINT
    See also:

    17 Sep 02 | South Asia
    17 Sep 02 | South Asia
    30 Apr 02 | South Asia
    28 Feb 02 | South Asia
    25 Sep 02 | South Asia
    Internet links:


    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more South Asia stories

    © BBC ^^ Back to top

    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
    South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
    Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
    Programmes