Lucknow: Four people, including a police inspector and two criminals, were killed in an encounter which broke out when police tried to rescue the inmates of a house stormed by a gang of anti-socials in Mau district of Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.

According to police sources, on a tip off about the presence of criminals in the area, police chased them when they took shelter in a house holding the inmates hostage and opened fire at the police team, which had surrounded them at Matiyakot village under Chiriya Kot police station, triggering the encounter.

Additional police force was rushed from neighbouring districts and senior officials reached the spot to oversee the operation, the sources added.

The encounter lasted for about five hours during which inspector Govind Singh, two criminals who laid a seige of the house and the house owner Ramji Gupta were killed. The police, however, rescued three other inmates of the house--a woman and two children, the sources said adding the criminals have been identifed as Dheeraj Singh and Vikas Singh. Dheeraj Singh of Ghazipur was carrying a cash reward of Rs. 15 thousand on his head.