ISLAMABAD/Srinagar - Pakistan yesterday rebuked India’s reckless reaction over the Uri attack in Occupied Kashmir where gunmen killed at least 17 Indian soldiers.

The attack occurred when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prepared to take up the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly in its 71st session that begins in New York today (September 19).

Several gunmen hurling grenades killed 17 soldiers in a raid on an army base in Held Kashmir, with India blaming Pakistan-based militants for the worst such attack in the disputed region for over a decade.

The attackers broke into the base near the Line of Control before dawn and lobbed grenades at tents and barracks housing soldiers, before opening fire with automatic weapons, the Indian army said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to punish those behind the "cowardly" and "despicable" hours-long attack near the town of Uri that also left four gunmen dead and scores of soldiers injured.

"We strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished," Modi said in a series of tweets.

Modi directed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to visit Held Kashmir.

No one has so far claimed responsibility, but Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was disappointed with "Pakistan's continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups".

"Pakistan is a terrorist state and it should be identified and isolated as such," Singh said on Twitter, adding that the militants "were highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped".

Singh chaired a crisis meeting in New Delhi and cancelled trips to Russia and the United States.

The raid is likely to further sour ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours given the high death toll and heightened tensions in the Occupied Kashmir following weeks of deadly clashes between residents and security forces.

On Sunday residents of Uri town saw smoke billowing from the nearby base and heard continuous rounds of heavy gunfire that lasted several hours, while Indian army helicopters circled overhead.

Twenty-eight injured soldiers were airlifted to a military hospital in Srinagar, four of them in critical condition, an army officer said.

While reaction to Indian allegations, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria dismissed the accusations. He said India must investigate the incident before blaming others. “They immediately blame Pakistan before any investigation. We reject this,” he maintained.

He said putting the blame on Pakistan was an old tactic of India. “They should not come to a conclusion before seriously investigating the case,” Zakaria said.

He said Prime Minister Sharif will highlight the Kashmir issue and human rights violations by Indian forces in the held territory during his address at UNGA. “He will also take up the issue with the world leaders on the sidelines of the session,” the spokesman said.

Zakaria said India had killed 100,000 Kashmiris since the start of the freedom movement. He said that in the recent wave of human rights violations the Indian forces had killed 104 Kashmiris including children and women.

The spokesman said 10,000 Kashmiris had been injured in the “recent brutal activities” by the Indian forces.

Later yesterday, Pakistan and Indian army Director Generals Military Operations established hotline contact on Indian request, a statement of Pakistan’s military said.

“The latest situation along the Line of Control was discussed. Refuting unfounded and premature Indian allegations, Pakistani DGMO asked his counterpart to share any actionable intelligence,” a military spokesman said.

He also reiterated that no infiltration was allowed from Pakistani soil because water-tight arrangements were in place on both sides of LoC and Working Boundary all along, the ISPR statement said.

Lt-Gen Ranbir Singh, Indian army's director-general of military operations, said most of the soldiers died Sunday after their tents and other housing caught fire during the raid on the brigade headquarters near the LoC.

Singh blamed Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, saying he had already expressed "serious concerns" to his Pakistani counterpart. "The killed terrorists, they were all foreign terrorists and as per the initial reports, they belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammad," Singh told a briefing.

Singh told reporters in New Delhi that Sunday's attack bore the hallmarks of Jaish-e-Mohammed. Evidence gathered at the scene indicated the attackers were foreign and their equipment bore Pakistani markings, he added.

"Our men are ready to give a befitting response," Singh said in response to a reporter's question. He did not elaborate.

India blamed the same group for an audacious attack in January on an Indian air force base in the northern state of Punjab that left seven soldiers dead.

The US "strongly condemned" the Uri attack, adding it was committed to the "strong partnership with the Indian government to combat terrorism," State Department spokesman John Kirby said.