Five soldiers were killed and eight others injured when separatist guerrillas attacked an army convoy here with automatic weapons and grenades Monday, police said.
The attack came as the convoy, on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway, passed through the Hyderpora area, a senior police officer said.
The attack came a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi arrive on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attack.
"Militants opened indiscriminate firing from automatic weapons at the army convoy passing through Hyderpora area of the city on the bye-pass," the police officer said.
"They also hurled a grenade which exploded inside an army vehicle resulting in the death of five army men and injuries to eight others," the officer said, adding that the area has been cordoned off and searches are in progress to nail down the militants.
The militants, believed to be two in number, opened indiscriminate firing on the convoy coming from north to south Kashmir and fled the scene in the face of the retaliation, official sources said.
Army troops along with police and CRPF immediately cordoned off the whole area and launched a manhunt to nab the militants, the sources said.
They said after initial heavy firing, gunshots continued for a few minutes but there were no reports of further casualties in the area.
However, half-an-hour later, firing was reported in Barzulla area, two kms away from Hyderpora on Airport-Lal Chowk road resulting in injuries to a CRPF personnel.
"One CRPF personnel has been injured in the militant firing near out Rambagh camp," Inspector General of CRPF Y S Yadav said. He was later identified as sub-inspector Lala Ram.
A person Baliguddin, identifying himself as spokesperson of the outfit, called up a local news agency and said that Hizbul Mujahideen has formed several squads and similar attacks will be carried out in the city in the future as well.
This is the second terror strike in the Kashmir Valley during the past three days.
On Saturday, terrorists killed two local policemen in a hit-and-run attack in the busy Hari Singh High Street market of Srinagar.
Both the attacks have come at a time when the security forces have sounded a high alert across the state in view of the prime minister's visit.
Separatist leaders, including the hardliner Syed Ali Geelani and the moderate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have given a protest shutdown call Tuesday to coincide with the visit. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik has also appealed to people to observe a protest shutdown Tuesday.
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