SRINAGAR: Heavily armed gunmen struck at an Indian Army base camp in Uri of north Kashmir's Baramulla district near the Line of Control with Pakistan, killing at least 17 jawans.

The attack will shadow the Army's 'Operation Calm Down' to restore normalcy in areas of the restive south Kashmir with the Army chief Gen DS Suhag expected to arrive in the Valley later in the day.

Officials said the gunmen, dressed in camouflage fatigues, stormed the base camp near the headquarter of the Army's strategic 12 Brigade deployed along the Line of Control at around 5:30 am, firing indiscriminately at the soldiers who were caught off guard.

"They had taken up strategic positions inside the camp, which prolonged the operation and also handed them the advantage of having occupied vantage positions," an Army officer said, wishing to remain anonymous.

In the retaliatory action, the Army airdropped the elite Para troopers near the base, reportedly killing four suspected militants. The operation has not been called off yet, officials said.

While reports in Delhi based media are blaming the attack on the Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit, the bodies of the suspects have not been recovered from the site and their identity has not been ascertained.

"The scene of the attack has been secured and a combing operation is underway," the Army sources said, adding that at least 26 soldiers suffered injuries in the strike near the border town who were shifted to Army hospital in Srinagar.

The attack comes at a time when Kashmir is witnessing one of the worst periods of civilian unrest which has claimed 86 lives and it is likely to further antagonise relations between India and Pakistan.

In the national capital, union home minister Rajnath Singh cancelled his visit to Russia in the aftermath of the attack and he has reportedly called a high-level meeting of home and defence ministry officials to review the situation.

In a series of posts on Twitter, Mr Singh said he spoke with the J&K's chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and Governor NN Vohra, and the situation is being monitored closely.

(File Picture)