SIMI Jailbreak Attempt. (Flickr)

Eight suspected Islamist terrorist were shot dead on Monday  by the police on the outskirts of Bhopal in the central state of Madhya Pradesh after they escaped from a high-security jail in the city.

The prisoners were members of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and escaped after attacking a warder in their cell with sharpened steel plates. They  scaled the high prison walls using sheets tied together. The police chased the escapees and were able to corner them, according to official reports.

The police said that they were asked to surrender and return but faced resistance.

“We asked them to surrender but they tried to break the police cordon,” Yogesh Choudhary, Bhopal’s inspector general of police said.

“They were unarmed but attempted to attack the police with stones. We had to shoot them,” Choudhary added.

The inmates had been in jail for three years awaiting trial for “terror related activities”. SIMI activists have been linked to the deadly bombings in Mumbai commuter trains in 2006 which killed 187 people. The group is also accused of having links with Pakistan-based militant groups.

Indian authorities have accused SIMI of carrying out several deadly bombings including a blast in the Bangalore-Guwahati train at the Chennai Central station that killed a young software engineer in 2014 and the July 2014 explosions near Faraskhana and Vishrambag police stations in Pune.

The state of Madhya Pradesh and surrounding states were put on high alert after the escape. Four police officers have been suspended and the central government has asked for a detailed report of the incident.