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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

4 Killed in Attack on U.S. Center in India

CALCUTTA, India -- Heavily armed attackers on motorcycles sprayed automatic gunfire outside the U.S. government cultural center in Calcutta on Tuesday, killing five police officers, officials said.

Eighteen officers, one pedestrian and one private security guard were wounded, said state Home Secretary Amit Kiran Deb. No Americans were injured and no consulate staffers were in the building.

Draped in shawls, four attackers on two motorcycles drove up to the American Center in the heart of Calcutta at 6:35 a.m., U.S. officials said. They shot at Indian police officers and fled.

The attack came less than six weeks after an assault on the Indian Parliament left nine government workers and five attackers dead in New Delhi. That attack, which India blamed on two Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups and Pakistan's spy agency, put the two countries on a footing for war.

A pool of blood could be seen outside the American Center, which was closed for the day. Spent AK-47 bullets littered the street.

India's powerful home minister, Lal Krishna Advani, condemned what he called a "terrorist attack" against U.S. and Indian interests.

A senior Home Ministry official said that a man called police in New Delhi and said the attack had been carried out by Harkat-ul Jehad-e-Islami, a Pakistan-based militant group.

Advani said the group, which fought the Indian army in Kashmir in the 1990s, was connected to Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence.

But a spokesman for the group denied any involvement in the attack.

"None of our members was behind it," said spokesman Mohammed Rizwan Kashmiri.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Aziz Khan also denied the claim.

The attackers were not hurt, said Calcutta Police Commissioner Sujoy Chakraborty. It was not clear if the police officers fired back.

Joint Commissioner of Police Suresh Roy said there were intelligence reports of a possible strike against U.S. establishments in India, as part of an "unprecedented threat" during India's Republic Day celebrations this Saturday.