NEW DELHI - Indian officials say at least 20 people, including 11 security personnel, were killed in a series of attacks blamed on militants in Indian Kashmir.
The worst attack took place when militants armed with AK 47 rifles hurled rocket propelled grenades before dawn at an army camp in Uri, where there is a large army base. The camp is located near the line of control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Army officials called it a suicide attack and said that six militants died in the exchange of fire. A senior army officer was among those who died in one of the deadliest raids in the past year.
Surge in violence
In Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, two militants were gunned down when police launched an operation to flush out militants. In another attack in Tral town in south Kashmir, one civilian was killed and several wounded when alleged militants hurled a grenade at a vehicle, but missed their target and hit a man at a bus stand.
The surge in violence Friday prompted Home Minister Rajnath Singh to criticize Pakistan for sheltering terrorists. He said "I think Pakistan should try to stop these incidents, if they cant they should speak to India about it.”
Militants crossing the border
New Delhi blames violence in Indian Kashmir on militants who come across the border in the disputed territory from Pakistan, an allegation Islamabad denies.
Singh also said "Why is it that people who indulge in such activities hide in Pakistan? Should Pakistan not answer to this?"
There was no immedate comment from Pakisani officials on Friday.
There has been a increase in militant violence since five-stage local elections began in Indian Kashmir on November 25. Voter turnout has been high despite a call for a poll boycott by Muslim separatist leaders.
Friday’s violence erupted ahead of a high-profile campaign rally which Prime Minster Narendra Modi is due to attend in Srinagar on Monday.
In an attack on Nov. 27, ten people were killed when a group of militants struck at another army camp near the disputed border with Pakistan.
Commenting on the latest attack, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah said in a tweet that it “Once again shows the desperate levels militants will go to disrupt peace and normalcy."
Thousands of troops are deployed in the Kashmir. India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars on their rival claims to the Himalayan region.