Suspected rebels have killed five soldiers in disputed Indian-administered Kashmir when they opened fire and threw explosives at an army truck, the Indian military has said.
The vehicle caught fire “due to likely use of grenades”, the army said, which were thrown by the unidentified attackers in the southern Rajouri sector on Thursday, close to the highly militarised Line of Control that divides the Himalayan territory between India and Pakistan.
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“Five personnel of the Rashtriya Rifles Unit deployed for Counter Terrorist operations in this area have unfortunately lost their lives in the incident,” the army’s northern command said in the statement.
Another soldier was seriously wounded and taken to a military hospital for treatment, according to the statement.
Videos from the scene showed an army vehicle engulfed in flames on a highway in the mountainous area.
Security forces were searching the area for the attackers. “Operations are in progress to locate the perpetrators,” the army said.
A defence ministry source said Indian Army chief General Manoj Pande has briefed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the attack.
Kashmir is claimed in full but ruled in part by nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.
Since 1989, rebels in the region under India’s control have fought some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in Indian-administered Kashmir, demanding independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Anger at New Delhi’s rule has intensified since 2019, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government cancelled the partial autonomy of India’s only Muslim-majority region.
In August last year, suspected rebels attacked an Indian army post in Rajouri, killing three soldiers. Two of the attackers also died in the shootout.
New Delhi has long accused Pakistan of stoking the rebellion in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir. Islamabad denies that accusation, saying it only provides diplomatic and moral support for Kashmiris seeking self-determination.
Tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels have been killed in the conflict so far.