SRINAGAR, India: A militant attack on an army camp in Indian Kashmir killed seven soldiers and three police on Friday, an official said, as the tense Muslim-majority state votes in local elections.
Three of the assailants also died in a shoot-out at the army camp in Uri, near the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed Himalayan region.
The attackers struck days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was due to visit Kashmir, where thousands of extra paramilitary troops have been deployed for month-long local polls.
“Seven army men, three police and three terrorists died in the firing incident,” a senior police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. N.N. Joshi, the army spokesman in Srinagar said only that “the operation is on”, without giving any details.
Uri, home to a large army base housing several hundred soldiers, is around
100 kilometres (60 miles) northwest of the regional capital Srinagar, where
Modi is due to campaign on Monday.
The prime minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is staging a bold attempt
to seize control of the Jammu and Kashmir legislature, a move unthinkable until
The Hindu nationalist party has traditionally had no base in the Kashmir Valley, where residents’ resentment against Indian rule runs high.
Turnout was high for the first phase of voting in Jammu and Kashmir state on November 25, when more than 70 percent of the electorate cast their ballots
in 15 constituencies.
But the polls have brought increased violence. Friday’s attack followed a major gun battle earlier this week in which an Indian soldier and six militants were killed.
On Monday suspected rebels shot dead a village leader in an apparent attempt to disrupt the elections.
About a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for
independence or to merge the territory with Pakistan. The fighting has left
tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians.
Most separatist leaders opposed to Indian rule were either arrested or
confined to their houses after elections were announced. Many had called on
people to boycott the polls.
Jammu and Kashmir will vote in five phases, with results due on December 23.
Modi will on Monday address an election rally in Srinagar, a day ahead of
the third phase of polling.