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17 soldiers killed as suspected militants attack army base in India-held Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Seventeen Indian soldiers were killed during an attack by suspected militants on an army headquarters in India-held Kashmir (IHK) on Sunday, the army’s northern command said.

“Four terrorists killed in counter-terrorist operation at Uri,” the command said on Twitter, referring to the Uri area, about 100 kilometres west of the troubled northern region’s main city of Srinagar.

An unknown number of heavily-armed suspected militants snuck before dawn into the army’s infantry base that houses hundreds of soldiers.

Earlier, a witness in Uri town said he could see smoke billowing inside the nearby infantry headquarters and continuous rounds of heavy gunfire could be heard.

The suspected militants first attacked a frontline base close to the Line of Control (LoC) before moving onto the headquarters, army spokesman Colonel S. D. Goswami said.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in a series of tweets that he had spoken to the region’s military and political leaders about the attack and had cancelled planned trips to Russia and the United States.

The Himalayan region has been in the grip of deadly unrest for more than two months, with protesting residents clashing almost daily with security forces, in the worst violence to hit the region since 2010.

At least 87 civilians have been killed and thousands injured in the protests against Indian rule, sparked by the killing of a popular Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani in a gun battle with soldiers on July 8.

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