Gunbattle leaves 4 dead in India-held Kashmir
Two Indian air force commandos and two suspected militants were killed during a gunbattle on Wednesday in India-held Kashmir, the Indian army claimed, during an upsurge in violence in the disputed region. The fighting started when soldiers searching for militants cordoned off a neighbourhood in the northern town of Hajin.“It was a difficult operation. Two militants were killed in the encounter. Unfortunately two air force commandos also died,” an Indian police officer told AFP. The deaths came two days after a leader of the banned militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) — accused of organising a string of suicide attacks across India-held Kashmir — was killed in a shootout with government forces. Separatist groups have for years been fighting Indian soldiers deployed in the region, demanding that Kashmir be given independence or merged with Pakistan. The fighting has left tens of thousands dead, most of them civilians and earlier this year, India launched “Operation Allout” to hunt down the separatists. Indian police say at least 160 militants and 59 security officials have been killed so far this year.