Militants storm Indian bases in Kashmir, kill 10
Indian soldiers gather behind a small wall during an attack by militants on an army camp at Mesar in Samba District, on September 26, 2013. Militants also stormed a police station killing at least nine.
Three militants wearing army fatigues lobbed grenades and opened fire early Thursday at the Hiranagar police station near the border with Pakistan, around 200 kilometres (124 miles) from the main Kashmiri city of Srinagar, police said.
They then hijacked a truck and drove to a nearby army base in Samba district in the southernmost part of the state where a fierce gunbattle with soldiers took place and Indian tanks were deployed, eyewitnesses and police said.
The day-long gunbattle ended with all three militants killed inside the base, director general of police Ashok Prasad told AFP.
The attacks are set to overshadow a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this weekend, the first top-level dialogue in three years.
"This attack in Jammu is aimed at derailing the dialogue process," said Omar Abdullah, chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state.
Separately, army spokesman Colonel Brijesh Pandey told AFP that Indian forces were battling four groups of militants in the mountainous north of the state where he said 12 people were thought to have been killed.
Premier Singh condemned "the heinous terrorist attack" on the police station and army base in a statement, but pledged that it "will not deter us" as he seeks to resolve problems with Pakistan through dialogue.
Militant attacks have a history of stalling stop-start peace efforts by the two neighbours, who have fought three wars since independence. India accuses Pakistan of abetting the groups which strike Indian targets.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the militants carried out the latest attacks after crossing the border on Thursday morning, in a reference to Pakistan.
They targeted the police station before hijacking a truck and driving in the direction of the army base, police and witnesses said.
"Four policemen and two civilians were killed by the militants in the attack on the police station," police official Prasad said. Two other policemen and a civilian were injured in the attack.
A senior army officer, who did not want to be named, said four soldiers, including an officer, were then killed in the gunbattle inside the army base.
A witness said the militants targeted the cleaner of the truck as they fled the police station. "They asked him where the driver was. They then killed the cleaner and asked the driver to drive them off," said the man, who did not give his name.
At the army camp, gunshots were heard from inside the walled compound. Two officers were seen running out carrying an injured man.
"I was inside the dhaba (a roadside eatery) when I saw three men entering the camp firing a barrage of bullets. They opened the gates and entered," a man told television reporters in Samba.
Local English-language newspaper The Kashmir Monitor said it had received a call by satellite phone from a previously unknown group called Shouhda Brigade ("Martyrs Brigade") which claimed responsibility.
The group said three Kashmiri militants were involved and they had killed 15 people. None of these claims could be independently verified by AFP.
The leaders of several Pakistan-based groups warned last month of an "unprecedented" surge in activity in India as battle-hardened fighters transfer their attention from Afghanistan to the Himalayan region.
Indian premier Singh confirmed on Wednesday that he would meet his Pakistani counterpart despite calls from the opposition to take a hard line with Islamabad.
Formal peace talks known as the Composite Dialogue are currently off and India has played down any expectations they might restart as a result of Sunday's talks.
Kashmir, a picturesque Himalayan territory, is divided between India and Pakistan by a de facto border known as the Line of Control but it is claimed in full by both countries.
More than a dozen armed rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for the region's independence or its merger with Pakistan.
Attacks in Indian Kashmir are at their lowest in 20 years, but the region remains tense with many Kashmiris chafing under tight security.
Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting by official count while local rights groups estimate up to 70,000 have lost their lives.
Thursday's attack comes after heavily-armed militants killed eight soldiers and two policemen in the region in June, in the deadliest such incident in five years.
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