SIRINAGR: Seven Indian soldiers were killed after militants disguised as policemen stormed a major army base near the frontier with Pakistan Tuesday, as tensions between the two neighbours ran high after weeks of cross-border firing.
Four suspected militants were also killed in the stand-off with security forces inside the command centre in northern Jammu and Kashmir state that lasted most of the day.
It was the most audacious attack on an Indian military base since September, when 19 soldiers were killed in an assault that India blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
The army in a statement said four of its soldiers were killed in the initial assault after heavily armed militants wearing police uniforms stormed the base early Tuesday firing small arms and hurling grenades.
Three army men were killed in a rescue operation after the militants took 16 people hostage inside two buildings used by the families of the army officers.
Two women and children were among the hostages, the army said. "In this rescue attempt one more officer and two jawans sacrificed their lives," it added
Three bodies of the attackers have been recovered and operation to sanitise the complex continues, the statement said. One of the dead soldier was a major while the rank of another officer remained unclear.
Earlier a senior local police officer said all four militants were killed in the counter-attack by security forces. "Now the search operation is going on inside the premises," the officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The base is one of four command centres in the restive region and home to over 1,000 officers.