Five troops killed as gunmen attack Kashmir security camp

Indian paramilitary soldiers carry an injured colleague to a hospital during a fight in Srinagar on March 13, 2013 It was the first major attack in three years in Indian-administered Kashmir

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Militants in Indian-administered Kashmir have killed at least five security personnel in a gun and grenade attack near a school in Srinagar.

Two gunmen were also killed and at least five others, including three civilians, were injured, police said.

The gunmen, who concealed weapons in sports bags, launched the attack after mingling with children playing cricket.

It was the bloodiest militant attack for three years in the region, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

The Hizb-ul Mujahideen militant group said it had carried out the attack and threatened more violence, according to local media reports.

Indian-administered Kashmir has seen an insurgency against Indian rule since 1989, but violence has declined in recent years.

Analysis

This is the first high-profile attack in three years. It is significant for the number of troops killed and also the clever method used by the attackers who mingled with children playing cricket in a playground close to the police camp to avoid detection.

The attack comes against the backdrop of last month's hanging of Afzal Guru, who was convicted of plotting the 2001 attack on India's parliament. Many Kashmiris believe Guru did not receive a fair trial and there have been weeks of curfews, strikes and protests.

Over the last few summers, Kashmir has seen unarmed stone-throwers take to the streets to voice their grievances. They are generally dealt with by force, and at least 200 people, including two children, have been killed in riot-control operations.

For years, separatists and rights activists have warned of a revival of militancy in Kashmir. Still, a one-off attack cannot be described as the beginning of a "new militancy", but the general notion here is that the mistreated stone throwers are the potential new militants.

The gunmen attacked a security camp manned by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) near a school run by the police in Bemina district of Srinagar.

The school was closed and no children were hurt in the attack, officials said. Security forces swiftly cordoned off the area.

A senior police official said the attackers had "mixed" with children playing cricket on a nearby field and were carrying weapons in sports bags.

"They threw a grenade at the security forces, killing five of them. They also opened fire," the official said.

Two of the attackers were killed after the police returned fire and a searched was launched for any other militants, although none were found.

Later, a man died after police opened fire on protesters who they said had thrown stones at vehicles taking the injured to hospital. Local residents denied the man had been protesting or throwing stones.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been tense since the execution in February of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri man convicted for plotting to attack India's parliament in 2001.

Militants attacks in Srinagar have become rare - last October one person was killed by gunmen who opened fire in a hotel on the outskirts of the summer capital.

And in May last year seven paramilitary soldiers were injured after two men on a motorcycle fired at them in the city.

The last major militant attack was in January 2010 when two militants launched a grenade and gun attack in the city's Lal Chowk area and later took refuge in a hotel.

Security forces stormed the hotel, killing the gunmen and ending the stand-off that lasted almost 24 hours. A policeman and a bystander were also killed.

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