Gunmen wearing army uniforms have stormed a police station in India-administered Kashmir, killing a policeman and sparking a four-hour gun battle that left two paramilitary officers, two attackers and a civilian dead, police have said.

At least seven paramilitary officers, two policemen and a second civilian were also wounded in Friday's fighting on the outskirts of Kathua town, in the region of Jammu near the border with Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Indian forces also rescued at least two dozen paramilitary and police officers who had been trapped inside the station, the police said.

Inspector-General Danish Rana said the attackers hijacked a car and drove it to the police station, where they forced several civilians to enter in order to gain access to the building.

They then killed a police sentry and one of the civilians, and pushed their way into the building.

"Most likely, the militants infiltrated from the Pakistani side overnight," Rana said.

The attackers were dressed in army combat uniforms, but it was unclear from which country's army, Police Director-General K Rajendra said.

No claim of responsibility

There are several anti-India groups fighting for Kashmir's independence or merger with neighbouring Pakistan-administered Kashmir. No one immediately claimed responsibility for Friday's attack.

Indian officials quickly blamed Pakistan, and said the incident justified the continuation of a controversial law allowing Indian military and paramilitary forces based in Kashmir to shoot-to-kill suspects without prosecution and to arrest suspected fighters without a warrant.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act also gives Kashmir-based police wide-ranging powers of search and seizure.

Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in India's prime minister's office, said the attack should "be an eye opener and loud and clear message" to those who want to revoke the special powers act.

India has long accused Pakistan of supporting fighters with arms, training and logistical support - a charge Pakistan denies.

Kashmir has been in a state of conflict for decades, with a violent uprising erupting in 1989 leading to a brutal crackdown by Indian forces. An estimated 68,000 people have died in the violence.

Source: AP