At least five Indian soldiers were killed and four others injured on Friday during a gunfight with suspected militants in the Himalayan Jammu and Kashmir region.
The soldiers belonged to the Indian Army's special forces and were part of a team involved in an operation after receiving information about a group of militants in the mountainous Rajouri district of Jammu.
The soldiers died when “terrorists triggered explosives in retaliation” during the operation at Kesri Hill in the Kandi area of Rajouri district, an army official said.
The militants were hiding in a cave in the forested area, the official said.
“On specific information about the presence of terrorists, a joint operation was launched. A search team established contact with a group of terrorists well entrenched in a cave. The area is thickly vegetated with rocky and steep cliffs,” the army said.
The army said that there was a possibility the militants had also suffered casualties.
The injured soldiers were taken to a military hospital in neighbouring Udhampur district and additional forces from the area were sent to the site of the encounter, the army said.
The gunfight came two weeks after five soldiers were killed in a militant attack in the same region.
The disputed region of Kashmir is ruled by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed by both in its entirety since British colonisers left the subcontinent in 1947.
The two countries have fought three wars over the region where a three-decade armed insurgency has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.