Armed men fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir have stormed a military base, triggering a fierce gun battle that left seven army officers dead.
Officials said the attackers opened fire on the large military camp in Nagrota, a town on the main highway linking Kashmir’s two major cities of Srinagar and Jammu in the early hours of Tuesday.
Four militants were also killed in the clashes with security forces, police said.
The deadly developments came on the same day as Pakistan’s new army chief, Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa, took command of the country’s powerful army.
In his first remarks after taking charge of the armed forces, Bajwa signaled that the current alarming situation at the common border in the Kashmir region “will hopefully improve soon.”
Outgoing army chief General Raheel Sharif, however, issued a stern warning to India over violence in Kashmir as he handed over the reins to Bajwa at a military ceremony in Rawalpindi.
"I want to make it clear to India, that taking our policy of patience (in Kashmir) as a sign of any kind of weakness will prove to be dangerous," said Sharif.
The renewed clashes came after a five-day lull in fighting between Indian and Pakistani troops, who have been exchanging heavy mortar and artillery fire for months across the de facto border that divides Kashmir.
Cross-border attacks have risen during the recent months, with India putting the blame on Pakistan which it accuses of supporting militants based on its side of the border.
Pakistan has rejected the claim and accused India of abusing the rights of Muslim Kashmiris opposed to the Indian rule.
Tensions have heightened between the two nuclear-armed neighbors since the September 18 deadly attack on an army base in the Indian town of Uri.
India accused Pakistan-based militants for the attack, which was the worst such assault in 14 years. Islamabad denied having any role in it and slammed later cross-border strikes by India, which inflicted casualties of their own.
The restive Muslim-majority region of Kashmir has witnessed an increase in mass protests and violent attacks since early July, when a top pro-independence figure was killed in a shootout with Indian troops.
Tens of thousands of Indian troops have been deployed to the region and dozens of people have lost their lives in the following crackdown, which has failed to halt the protests.
Pakistan and India have already fought four total wars since their partition in 1947 — three of them over Kashmir.