In one of the deadliest attacks on the Army in recent years, 17 jawans were killed as heavily armed militants stormed a battalion headquarters of the force in North Kashmir's Uri town in the wee hours on Sunday.
Four militants involved in the terror strike were killed by the Army.
Explosions and gunfire erupted as the militants attacked the camp, which is located barely few metres away from the Army's Brigade Headquarters in Uri town, 102 kms from Srinaga, around 4 am.
Four "fidayeen” - or commando-style gunmen willing to fight to the death - were confirmed killed after sneaking into the base near the Line of Control with Pakistan, the worst single attack on the army in 26 years.
More than 30 soldiers were injured, many of them critically, stoking fears that the death toll will rise.
Most of the soldiers were killed when their tents caught fire in the grenade attack. Visuals showed thick smoke rising from the base on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway.
The strike jeopardised hopes of peace returning quickly to the Valley that has been rocked by two months of violent protests that have killed 86 people and injured thousands.
Uri houses the army's brigade headquarters. The attack took place during a change of command, which means one unit was replacing another and many soldiers were in tents or temporary shelters.
Some 30 soldiers were injured in a six-hour gun battle with the terrorists who are believed to have crossed a canal along the Line of Control, cut through the fencing and infiltrated into Kashmir.
The dawn raid surprised soldiers in their sleep as attackers set fire to a building. The blaze killed 12 soldiers and the rest died in the gunfight, sources added.
Television footage showed helicopters flying to evacuate the injured as smoke billowed from the base.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said he will visit Uri and home minister Rajnath Singh cancelled scheduled trips to Russia and the United States and called an emergency meeting. Army chief Dalbir Singh and northern command head DS Hooda also rushed to Uri.
Sources said the attack was part of a fresh wave of infiltration by militants who the government blames for instigating Kashmiris and stirring unrest.
A militant raid in December 2014, also near Uri, had killed eight soldiers and three policemen. In February, the army lost three soldiers in the deadliest suicide bomber attack in Srinagar in many years.
"We strongly condemn the cowardly terror attack in Uri. I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
Home minister Rajnath Singh hit out at Pakistan, calling it a terror state that needed to be "identified and isolated”.
"I am deeply disappointed with Pakistan’s continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups,” he tweeted.
President Pranab Mukherjee also Condemned the attack
Soon after Singh pointed a finger at Pakistan, its foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria dismissed the accusation. "India immediately puts blame on Pakistan without doing any investigation. We reject this,” Zakaria told Reporters.