India pulls out of key summit in Pakistan: govt

New Delhi (AFP) - India on Tuesday pulled out of a key regional summit in Pakistan citing an increase in cross-border attacks, as tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours escalates.

The Indian government has accused Pakistan-based militants of launching a deadly assault on an army base in Kashmir this month that killed 18 soldiers.

Pakistan has rejected India's claims as "unfounded and premature".

Regional superpower India said it has conveyed its decision not to take part in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit to Nepal, the current SAARC Chair.

"India has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal that increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region...have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful holding of the 19th SAARC Summit," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"In the prevailing circumstances, the government of India is unable to participate in the proposed summit in Islamabad."

India's traditionally tense relations with Pakistan have nosedived following the attack on the army base and triggered a war of words between the neighbours.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947. Both claim the disputed Himalayan territory in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.

Several rebel groups have for decades fought Indian soldiers deployed in the region, demanding its independence or its merger with rival Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting, most of them civilians.

The SAARC summit, which brings together eight member states in the region, is scheduled to be held in Islamabad on November 9-10.