The two separatist fighters were also killed along with the 12 soldiers, Thind told reporters at Sunjjawan, the scene of the attack, 10 km from the province's winter capital Jammu.

   

This latest violence comes during the visit of Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to the Himalayan region. He is scheduled to return to New Delhi on Saturday.

   

The two fighters dressed in army uniform lobbed grenades into the camp and sprayed it with automatic weapons fire in a pre-dawn attack.

   

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

The killings took place close to the army camp at Kaluchak where fighters killed more than two dozen people in May 2002 bringing nuclear-armed India and Pakistan to the brink of a third war over the region.

 

Diplomatic process

   

Both countries have since then toned down rhetoric and initiated a peace process in April this year restoring full diplomatic and transport links as part of confidence building measures meant to pave the way for eventual peace talks.

   

New Delhi accuses Islamabad of arming and training Kashmiri fighters. Pakistan denies the charges that it foments violence there but says it provides moral and diplomatic support for what it calls a Kashmiri freedom struggle.

 

Kashmir has been a violent bone of contention between India and Pakistan since 1948.