A paramilitary soldier from one of India's elite security units shot dead four of his senior officers on Thursday in an apparent row over leave, police said.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) soldier fired indiscriminately at the officers at the barracks in Aurangabad district in eastern India's Bihar state before trying to flee.

"Three died on the spot while one injured officer succumbed to his injuries at a hospital," Satya Prakash, Aurangabad police chief, told AFP.

"He shot 32 rounds before he was overpowered by his colleagues and is suspected to be suffering from some mental illness."

Prakash said the dispute appeared to be over leave.

All the victims were unarmed and were off-duty when the incident took place at a thermal power plant where they were stationed.

The CISF guards the country's most vital civil and government installations including airports, atomic plants and government buildings.

India's security forces have historically had a high incidence of suicides and killings linked to long hours, poor working conditions and inadequate time off.

In 2014, a soldier killed five colleagues before shooting himself in India-held Kashmir after a superior denied him leave.

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