March 16, 2010 / 5:05 AM / 10 years ago

Gunbattle erupts at Indian space centre in Bangalore

BANGALORE, India (Reuters) - Two men fired at security guards outside a high security space centre in southern India on Tuesday but it was too early to link it to a militant attack, the government said.

The brief shootout occurred in Byalalu, on the outskirts of IT hub Bangalore, outside an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) building.

The Home (Interior) Ministry sees ISRO buildings as a high priority target for militants, and has beefed up security around them after warnings of possible attacks.

Police said it was “too early to speak of a terror link.” Federal Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi that the attackers wore “some kind of a uniform” and possibly shot from country-made pistols.

“We have to find out who these people were, seems to be some kind of an amateurish attack,” Chidambaram said.

“Nothing to be alarmed about. At the moment you can only call it an attack, whether it was terrorist or somebody else, we’ll know.”

India has raised security in the aftermath of a bombing that killed 16 people in western India last month. Home Secretary Gopal Pillai told Reuters on Monday that attack was carried out by home-grown militants with links to militants in Pakistan.

New Delhi has repeatedly accused Pakistan of failing to stop militants from carrying out attacks inside India.

India and Pakistan held their first official level talks since the 2008 Mumbai attacks last month. Analysts say another major attack on India could make it politically difficult for New Delhi to engage Pakistan and impact regional security.

Earlier, a spokesman for the ISRO said the shootout continued for some time.

“Two people were seen moving in a suspicious manner outside our centre,” ISRO spokesman S. Satish said.

“The police immediately challenged them, and they opened fire in retaliation.”

Police said they had launched a search for the two men who fled after the shootout.

Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee

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