SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Suspected rebels killed at least eight Indian paramilitary soldiers and wounded another 20 in a highway ambush Saturday that was one of the year's deadliest attacks in the Indian portion of Kashmir, authorities said.
Two of the attackers were killed by soldiers who returned fire, said K.K. Sharma, a paramilitary force officer. The ambush occurred on the outskirts of Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir.
Twenty soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force were wounded as one bus in the six-vehicle convoy came under attack by suspected rebels, said Nalin Prabhat, a senior officer of the Central Reserve Police Force. They have been shifted to a hospital in Srinagar and the condition of three of them was stated to be critical.
The attackers came in a car and fired at the convoy, Sharma said.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based rebel group, claimed responsibility for the assault and said two insurgents were killed in an exchange of gunfire with Indian forces that lasted nearly an hour. The group issued a statement to local media.
Police said two suspected rebels were believed to have fled the spot after spraying bullets on the Indian soldiers in the bus.
Rebel groups fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with neighboring Pakistan since 1989 often attack Indian government forces and other targets. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the subsequent Indian military crackdown.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two over control of Kashmir, since they won independence from British colonialists in 1947.