Indian forces kill four rebels in India-administered Kashmir’s Shopian district, hours after five other insurgents died in a separate firefight in the same area, sparking anti-New Delhi protests.
Indian troops in early June fired tear gas and pellet guns on anti-government protests near a village in Indian Occupied Kashmir where four Kashmir freedom fighters were killed in a gun battle.
The fighting came hours after Indian troops killed another five Kashmiris in the same area on the previous night, also triggering fierce clashes with villagers, raising the insurgent death toll to nine.
Hundreds of villagers rallied in support of the fighters, throwing stones and shouting slogans against Indian rule as the firefight continued, a police officer and locals said.
Indian soldiers laid a siege around a village in Kashmir’s southern Shopian area on a tip that rebels were hiding there, said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, an army spokesman.
Soldiers and rebels exchanged gunfire as troops launched search operations, Kalia said. He said four rebels were killed. Police said three soldiers were also wounded.
As the fighting continued, hundreds of people marched near the site in solidarity with the rebels, protesting against Indian rule over the region.
Indian forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the stone-throwing protesters.
No casualties were immediately reported in those clashes.
Violence has escalated in Kashmir in recent months as India steps up its counterinsurgency operations.
Rebels have also continued their attacks on Indian forces and alleged informants.
More than two dozen rebels and about a dozen Indian troops were killed in April, the most in any month since last August, when India revoked the region’s semi-autonomous status and statehood and imposed direct federal rule.
Kashmiris say India plans to alter the demographics of the region by settling non-local Hindus in the Muslim-majority region.
The incidents came a week after New Delhi expelled two Pakistan embassy officials over allegations of spying.
There also has been almost daily fighting over the last several months along the rugged and mountainous frontier that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Highly militarised region
India and Pakistan both claim the territory in its entirety.
Most Kashmiris support the rebel goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
New Delhi accuses Pakistan of arming and training the anti-India rebels.
Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to the armed rebels and to Kashmiris who oppose Indian rule.
India has deployed more than 500,000 troops in the disputed region.
TRTWorld and agencies