SRINAGAR  - Seven Indian soldiers were missing after an avalanche engulfed their barracks in Held Kashmir on Tuesday, an army spokesman said, as rescue operations were launched to find the men.

“The avalanche hit their barracks this morning, trapping seven soldiers in the (northern) Kupwara district,” army spokesman JS Brar said in Srinagar. “We have launched a rescue operation to trace them. At this point of time, we can’t say whether they are dead or alive,” Brar told AFP. The incident took place along the Line of Control.

Indian troops are deployed in strength to guard the Line of Control and also are present in large numbers across Indian-occupied Kashmir.

The region is in the grip of a more than two-decade-old struggle against Indian rule that has left more than 47,000 people dead by official count.

Kashmir has experienced heavy snow since the start of this month.

Seventeen Indian soldiers were killed in 2010 in an avalanche that slammed into a group of 70 combat troops at a high-altitude warfare training camp near Gulmarg.