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Terrorists storm Ayodhya complex

Explosives-laden jeep blown up to breach fence; security forces kill all six; BJP calls for protest

PLOT FOILED: One of the six militants killed when they stormed the Ramjanmabhoomi complex at Ayodhya on Tuesday. The militants used an explosives-laden jeep to ram the fence around the complex and then engaged the security forces in a 90-minute gunbattle. — PHOTO: SUBIR ROY

AYODHYA: Six heavily-armed terrorists on Tuesday made an attempt to storm the high-security makeshift Ram temple here and were killed by the security forces before they could strike at the shrine. The makeshift temple had come up the day the disputed Babri mosque was demolished 13 years ago.

Four CRPF personnel and two civilians, including a woman, were injured in the attack which occurred at around 8.15 a.m. and the intense gun-battle with the terrorists that followed.

Disguised as devotees

The attackers, in the guise of devotees, came in a hired jeep bearing registration number UP-42-T-0618 and stunned the security forces deployed at the first barricade by blasting the explosive-laden vehicle in which one of them was blown to pieces.

His other accomplices, who had got down from the vehicle earlier, hurled grenades and fired indiscriminately with sophisticated weapons, including AK-47 and carbine rifles, while entering the premises of the disputed area.

They were challenged by the personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and the CRPF near the 'Sita Rasoi' temple, part of the disputed area, and were gunned down nearly 70 metres short of the temple in an operation lasting about 90 minutes.

The driver of the taxi, Rehan Alam, a resident of Ayodhya, who also got down along with five terrorists a short distance away from the barricade, was arrested and is being questioned.

Rehan said the attackers had hired his vehicle telling him that they wanted to pay obeisance at the makeshift temple and some other shrines in Ayodhya before being dropped in Lucknow.

Another militant killed in the encounter was later found with explosives strapped to his body.

BJP blames Centre, U.P.

Blaming the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh Government for the attack, the Bharatiya Janata Party said Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Uttar Pradesh Home Minister must resign owning responsibility for the failure to protect the "declared security site."

The BJP has called for a nationwide protest on Wednesday against the attack. Condemning the attack, BJP president L.K. Advani said the ``response to the attack should also be equally fitting.''

Mr. Advani and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Ministers Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh would visit the troubled spot on Wednesday.

Union Home Secretary Vinod Kumar Duggal told newspersons in New Delhi on Tuesday that the Centre had ``intelligence information'' about the possibility of a militant attack at religious places and claimed that the swift action in Ayodhya was a result of this.

Pilgrims, temple safe

Uttar Pradesh Principal Secretary Alok Sinha said in Lucknow that all the pilgrims were safe and no damage was done to the temple area.


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