At least eight soldiers died and 19 were wounded Monday in an insurgent attack on a military convoy on the outskirts of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, police told the media.

The attackers opened fire on a military vehicle from both sides of the highway in the area of Hyderpora and later fled the scene in a car with tinted windows, a senior police officer said in comments cited by the PTI news agency.

The ambush came a day before the visit to the conflict-ridden region by Indian Prime Minister Manmohen Singh and the leader of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi.

Half an hour later, near the site of the first attack, there was another one in which one policeman was wounded.

A spokesman for the separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the first attack in remarks to PTI.

This is the second attack staged by Hizbul Mujahideen in Srinagar in the past three days, the first one - in which two police officers died - coming last Saturday.

Kashmir is a Muslim-majority region whose then-ruler declined to join Pakistan, founded as a state for Muslims, when the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947.

India and Pakistan have fought several wars over Kashmir and the Line of Control that divides the territory into Indian and Pakistani sections is one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world.

The 1990s saw the rise of a Pakistani-backed separatist movement in Kashmir.

In recent years, the violence had diminished to its lowest levels in two decades, but the execution by hanging in February in New Delhi of Kashmiri militant Mohammed Afzal Guru for participating in a terrorist operation against the Indian Parliament in 2001 caused a resurgence of violence in the region. EFE