Six gunmen are dead after storming a holy compound in northern India claimed by both Hindus and Muslims, prompting a nationwide security alert to prevent an outbreak of religious violence.
The gunmen stormed the security wall at the temple-mosque compound in Ayodhya with a bomb-laden vehicle, triggering a two-hour gun battle with security forces that killed five of the attackers. The sixth man blew himself up with the vehicle.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the attack as a "terrorist act" and appealed for calm. He said his government will deal firmly with the terrorists.
But the main opposition Hindu nationalist party has called for protests across India on Wednesday. The party rose to prominence and later to power after the Babri mosque at the site was demolished in 1992 by Hindu extremists.