SRINAGAR, INDIA - Militants attacked an Indian army post in the disputed Kashmir region on Thursday, killing three soldiers, while two attackers died in the shootout that came amid heightened security ahead of India's independence day celebrations.
The attack in the Rajouri area of India's only Muslim majority region took place in the early hours, and the area around the post was cordoned off afterwards as security forces conducted searches, an army official told Reuters.
"Three soldiers were killed and two were injured in the attack. However, troops fired back and killed two militants," the official said, asking not to be named as he was not authorized to speak with the media.
Coming just days after the third anniversary of the revocation of Kashmir's constitutional autonomy by the Indian government, the attack was sandwiched between two significant dates, with India set to celebrate the 75th anniversary on Monday of independence from British colonial rule.
Many Kashmiris saw the loss of special autonomy as another step in the erosion of the rights of Muslims by India's Hindu-nationalist government. The government rejects that, saying it would promote the region's development by drawing it closer to the rest of the country.
The Himalayan region has been disputed by India and neighboring Pakistan since the end of colonial rule in 1947, with both countries claiming it in full but ruling it in part.
India holds the populous Kashmir Valley and the Hindu-dominated region around Jammu city, while Pakistan controls a wedge of territory in the west, and its ally China holds a thinly populated high-altitude area in the mostly Buddhist northern Ladakh region.