Suspected rebels attacked an army camp in Indian-administered Kashmir on Thursday killing three soldiers before being shot dead themselves, police said, four days ahead of the 75th anniversary of Indian independence.
Officials say at least 130 militants and scores of police and soldiers have been killed this year in battles with rebels fighting for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan.
Two militants using automatic rifles and grenades “entered the army camp in the dark and there was an exchange of fire with soldiers. Army suffered three fatal causalities and the two attackers were also killed,” Mukesh Singh, a top police officer, told AFP.
The incident, in the southern Rajouri area near the highly militarised unofficial border dividing Kashmir from Pakistan, also injured two other soldiers.
On Wednesday hundreds of Indian soldiers on motorbikes paraded through Kashmir’s main city Srinagar, waving the national flag as part of independence-day celebrations culminating on August 15.
Tensions have simmered in Kashmir since 2019 when New Delhi imposed direct rule on the restive Muslim-majority territory, which is also claimed by Pakistan and which has been the spark for several wars since the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947.
India accuses its arch-rival of backing the militants, an allegation Islamabad denies saying it only supports a Kashmiri struggle for a UN-mandated right to self-determination.
Thursday’s attack also came at the end of a two-month annual Hindu pilgrimage to a cave shrine in the lower Himalayas, which was called off for two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.
India’s Hindu-nationalist government had hoped a million people would take part, helping to reinforce its claims on the disputed territory.
But only around 300,000 made the arduous trek, officials said, with enthusiasm dampened by flash floods killing 17 pilgrims last month, and frequent bad weather.