Two Indian soldiers were killed, one of them an officer, and seven others injured when rebels ambushed an army foot patrol on Saturday in the northern Kupwara district, police said. 

Kashmir's largest rebel group Hizb al-Mujahidiin claimed responsibility for the attack, a local news agency said. 

In the same area, police said they recovered the head of a civilian who was abducted late on Friday by suspected rebels.

Residents said the man worked as an informer with the army. 

Civilians killed

A police spokesman said five more civilians, including a father and his son were shot dead elsewhere in the restive province overnight and on Saturday. 

"The immediate motive for their killing was not known," the
spokesman said.

The attack came a day after India's Election Commissioner TS Krishna Murthy on a visit to Kashmir promised security during upcoming national elections and urged residents to vote. 

But Hizb al-Mujahidiin chief Sayyid Salah al-Din in a statement on Friday from Pakistani-administered Kashmir called on Kashmiris to boycott the polls.

According to separatists more than 80,000 people have died in an insurgency in the northern Indian state since 1989.