Militants dressed in Indian army uniforms attacked police and soldiers near the border with Pakistan on Thursday, killing nine people and triggering calls for talks between the prime ministers of the rival nations to be called off.
Just a day before the twin assault in disputed Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would meet his Pakistan counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on the weekend.
The leaders of the nuclear-armed neighbours are expected to discuss rising violence in Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the assault was an attempt to derail the talks.
A group of three gunmen attacked a police station in the morning, about 10 km (6 miles) from the border with Pakistan, killing five policemen. They then hijacked a truck and raided an army camp, security forces said. One civilian was killed.
The militants killed three soldiers during hours of fighting at the camp, near the town of Samba. While helicopters hovered overhead, a Reuters witness heard sporadic explosions and gunfire as Indian forces closed in on, and eventually killed, the gunmen who were holed up in a building.
“All the three militants have been killed in the Samba army camp operation. Three army men including a lieutenant colonel rank officer are dead,” said army spokesman Rajesh Kalia.
State-run Doordarshan quoted Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde as saying the militants had entered from Pakistan.
Pakistan’s army and government were not immediately available for comment.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence in1947 over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.
India has accused Pakistan of supporting militants fighting security forces in Indian Kashmir since 1989.