Kashmir gunbattle kills 2 rebels, 3 Indian troops
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian government forces engaged suspected rebels in a fierce gunbattle overnight that left two rebels dead along with an Indian soldier and two police officers in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, officials said Tuesday.
The fighting erupted Monday night after army soldier and police began searching for suspected militants in Zumreshi village, about 120 kilometers northwest of Srinagar, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Nitin Narahar Joshi said.
The troops killed two suspected rebels on Tuesday, hours after losing an army officer and two policemen in the fighting, a police officer said on customary condition of anonymity. He said four officers were also wounded.
Zumreshi is close to the so-called Line of Control, a highly militarized, de-facto border dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan. The neighboring countries both claim the region in its entirety.
Kashmir sees flares of violence often during spring and summer, as anti-India rebels step up demands for independence or incorporation into Pakistan.
Also on Tuesday, suspected militants fired on a police officer at close range, wounding him in the head as he was guarding a market in the southern town of Anantnag, police said. The wounded officer was in critical condition at a hospital. Police said the militants had also seized the officer’s automatic rifle.
No rebel group has issued any statement about either incident.
About 68,000 people have been killed since 1989 in an armed uprising and subsequent crackdown by Indian forces. While the armed rebellion has largely been suppressed, anti-India resentment still runs deep and is mainly expressed through street protests.