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India: Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi visit Srinagar a day after deadly attack

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has paid a landmark visit to Kashmir, the day after heavily-armed militants killed eight soldiers in the deadliest attack in Srinagar for five years.

srinagar attackEnlarge
Indian army soldiers take positions near a damaged army vehicle at the scene of a deadly attack by armed rebels on the outskirts of Srinagar on June 24, 2013. (ROUF BHAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, the Indian National Congress party president, have arrived in Srinagar a day after a militant strike in the Kashmiri capital killed eight soldiers.

Singh visited the Army hospital and met 13 soldiers wounded Monday in the suspected terrorist attack.

Militants opened fire from both sides on a convoy of army vehicles packed with unarmed soldiers returning from vacation.

Although the Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack, intelligence agencies believe it was organized by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The group is blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed more than 100 people, including six Americans, and is thought to receive support from Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI.

The United States House Committee on Homeland Security believes the group has the potential to carry out attacks within the US. A study released by the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy in West Point described the group as one of the world's most dangerous militant organizations.

Monday's attack comes as a blow to Indian forces in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Police and military fatalities in the first six months of 2013 already outstrip those of 2012 and 2011.

Meanwhile, barricades were thrown up across Srinagar and security forces intensified their patrols ahead of Singh's two-day visit.

Shops, businesses and schools were closed in Kashmir after separatist groups called for a strike on Tuesday to protest the prime minister's trip.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130625/india-kashmir-pakistan-sonia-gandhi-srinagar