SRINAGAR - India’s Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) soldier was killed and another critically injured on Monday in Mujahideen attack in the heart of Srinagar city.

The attack near Iqbal Park took place at 10:25am when the two CISF soldiers were shopping in the busy market near the park, Indian police said.

Police said the militants who were two in number used silencer-fitted pistols and fired from a point-blank range at the jawans who were not carrying any arms with them. They were rushed to a hospital where one of them succumbed to the injuries. Security forces cordoned off the area and a massive manhunt was launched to nab the assailants, the police said.

About a dozen groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or merger with Pakistan of the Himalayan region.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan by a heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) since the two countries won independence from Britain in 1947.

Overall militant violence has declined in Kashmir since India and Pakistan began a peace process in 2004, and attacks in Srinagar itself are rare now.

But there have been intermittent shoot-and-run incidents involving police and mujahideen. No rebel group immediately claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack. In July suspected rebels in Srinagar lobbed a grenade at a police vehicle carrying a prisoner who later died in a hospital.

Militants also killed eight soldiers during an ambush on the outskirts of Srinagar, the deadliest such attack in five years, marring a landmark visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

In a separate incident on Monday morning, India’s army said it had killed a militant who was trying to infiltrate the forested Machil area, 140 kilometres northwest of Srinagar. “He fired on being challenged and was killed in the ensuing gunfight,” Colonel Brijesh Pandey told AFP.

The militant’s body was found in the heavily forested area two kilometres inside the LoC along with an AK47 assault rifle, Pandey said.