The Uri military base attacked by militants on Sunday morning is one of the army’s most important garrisons in Kashmir and guards the Line of Control, which is India’s de-factor border with Pakistan.
The base acts as the brigade headquarters and houses 12,000-13,000 soldiers at any given point, many of them in transit from their line of duty.
The important base is vulnerable to attack from across the border as it can be approached from the LoC on three sides, one of them as close as six kilometers away from the LoC.
Read | Live updates on Uri attack
The extremists may have taken advantage of this, sneaking into the camp at 5.30am and using guns and grenades to target soldiers, triggering a fierce gunbattle that raged on for hours.
The base is also located in the plains and is under constant observation from Pakistani army posts higher in the mountains.
Uri – a garrison town with little anti-India sentiment – has been targeted by militants before. A raid in December 2014, also near Uri, had killed eight soldiers and three policemen.
They killed 17 soldiers and injured more than 30 in the worst single attack on the army in 26 years. All four militants were killed and their bodies recovered.
Many of the soldiers were killed in their sleep in a blaze that broke out shortly after the encounter began in makeshift tents used by personnel in transit.