NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- At least five gunmen stormed the Indian Parliament on Thursday, killing seven people with grenades, AK-47 rifles and a human bomb in an unprecedented assault on the seat of the world's largest democracy. Security forces killed the attackers during a 90-minute gunbattle.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though Home Minister Kal L. Advani declared "terrorists and their sponsors" were to blame.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who reportedly was just leaving the Parliament building when the attack took place, delivered a live television address two hours after the gunbattle ended to reassure the nation that the government had things under control.
"This was an attack not just on Parliament house, but a warning to the entire country. We accept the challenge. We will foil every attempt of the terrorists," Vajpayee said.
In addition to the 12 dead, the attack left 18 people injured, six critically, Advani said.
No lawmakers or Cabinet officials were among the casualties. Parliament had just adjourned at the time of the attack, and most officials were still inside the building.
Advani warned last week that a Bombay man was arrested Oct. 2 and told police that he had trained under Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terrorism network, blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. The suspect told police that al-Qaida had planned to attack Britain, Australia and the Indian Parliament, according to the home minister.
In the dramatic assault, the car sped through a gate and one militant jumped out, blowing himself up, while the others opened fire on police and security guards, according to state-run Doordarshan television.
Parliament officials said that four police officers, one unarmed paramilitary guard, a woman paramilitary constable and a gardener were killed in the attack.
Advani said five terrorists were killed and that another attacker may have been involved.
Earlier, Pramod Mahajan, India's parliamentary affairs minister, said that six terrorists had been killed in the 90-minute battle, called the worst breach of security in this nation since the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.
Police found explosives in the militants' car and in the turquoise knapsacks that the young, clean-shaven, black-haired gunmen had slung over their backs as they raced up the steps of the Parliament building, firing their assaults rifles with one hand.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.