SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Eight soldiers were killed and six others injured in rebel attacks in India's Jammu and Kashmir state, an army spokesman said on Monday, in a sign of escalating violence ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state.
Militants have escalated attacks on security forces since March this year, killing 27 security men so far, with Monday's the deadliest so far.
The security incidents follow protests in February when India hanged Mohammad Afzal Guru for an attack on parliament in 2001.
Guru was convicted of helping organize arms for the gunmen who mounted the attack and finding a place for them to stay. He always maintained his innocence.
On Monday, militants ambushed a vehicle carrying army personnel. They opened fire, lobbed a grenade and fled, Naresh Vij, a Srinagar-based defense spokesman, told Reuters.
Militant group Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the ambush and warned of more such attacks.
On Saturday, Hizbul Mujahideen militants shot dead two policemen in the heart of Srinagar city despite forces beefing up security before Singh's two-day visit, beginning on Tuesday.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, both of which claim the region and rule it in part. They have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.
(Writing by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Michael Roddy)