Police Sharpshooters Kill 5 Sikh Militants in Golden Temple

Associated Press

Police sharpshooters firing from high vantage points killed five Sikh militants inside the Golden Temple compound Friday and tightened their siege, taking over about one-third of the sacred complex.

About 100 extremists in the temple grounds, the holiest shrine of Sikhism, rejected a government demand for surrender.

Twenty-seven people, including at least five civilians, have been killed since Monday, when 2,500 police and paramilitary troopers surrounded the Golden Temple and its walled compound.

The gunmen inside are part of a separatist movement that has waged a terror campaign since 1982 seeking an independent Sikh homeland in Punjab, a rich northern agricultural state where the sect has a majority.

K.P.S. Gill, the police chief of Amritsar, said government forces took control of a narrow road that runs through the complex and seized the temple offices and hostel. The complex covers the equivalent of about five city blocks.

Gill said police and troopers controlled "all dominant features" around the compound, including a 150-foot-high water tower with a sweeping view over the 20 foot-high walls.

No food or people have been allowed into the temple since the siege began, and the militants have let no one leave since Tuesday, when about 800 pilgrims were evacuated.

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