Rebel attack leaves eight dead in Indian Kashmir


Srinagar (India) (AFP)

Suspected rebels stormed a paramilitary camp in Indian-administered Kashmir early Sunday leaving eight dead, police and security forces said, capping off the deadliest year in a decade for the disputed territory.

Armed militants lobbed grenades and fired automatic rifles to enter the camp of India's Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) outside the main city of Srinagar, triggering a fierce exchange of fire as hundreds of soldiers and special counterinsurgency police surrounded the area.

"Four CRPF soldiers died in the attack. We killed three militants, the body of one them is yet to be retrieved," inspector general of police, Munir Ahmed Khan told AFP.

A spokesman for the paramilitary force, Rajesh Yadav earlier said another trooper died of cardiac arrest during the initial assualt.

Three paramilitary troopers were wounded, Yadav said.

It was unclear how many personnel were inside the camp during the attack, which comes just days after Indian forces killed a top leader of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in a shootout nearby.

Local media reports quoted a spokesperson for the group claiming responsibility for Sunday's pre-dawn incident.

Kashmir was divided between rivals India and Pakistan at the end of British colonial rule over the subcontinent in 1947. Both claim the disputed territory in full and have fought two of their three wars over its control.

Rebel groups including JeM have since 1989 been fighting roughly half a million Indian soldiers deployed in the restive territory, seeking independence for the former Himalayan kingdom or its merger with neighbouring Pakistan.

The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.

Officials said Sunday that at least 206 suspected militants, 57 civilians and 78 Indian security forces personnel had been killed during the year, making it the deadliest in a decade.

New Delhi blames Pakistan for sending militants from across their disputed border in Kashmir to launch attacks on Indian forces.

Islamabad denies the allegations, saying it ony provides moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle for right to self-determination.