4 killed as vi­o­lence erupts in Kash­mir

In­dian troops come un­der fire from mil­i­tants

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A woman and a young man were killed and sev­eral other peo­ple in­jured dur­ing anti-In­dia protests and clashes in In­dian-con­trolled Kash­mir yes­ter­day fol­low­ing a coun­terin­sur­gency op­er­a­tion by gov­ern­ment forces that killed two rebels in the dis­puted re­gion, po­lice said. In­dian troops came un­der fire from mil­i­tants as sol­diers laid a cor­don around the south­ern vil­lage of Dial­gam fol­low­ing a tip that rebels were hid­ing there, said se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer Muneer Ahmed Khan.

Af­ter a brief ex­change of fire, mil­i­tants took refuge in­side a home where civil­ians, in­clud­ing women, were also trapped, Khan said. He said that the woman was killed in the cross­fire. How­ever, lo­cals said that sev­eral men and women rushed to the house where the mil­i­tants took shel­ter and asked sol­diers to give them safe pas­sage. The res­i­dents said troops were not let­ting some of the women leave.

A po­lice state­ment ac­cused mil­i­tants of hold­ing civil­ians as hu­man shields. Shortly af­ter over a dozen civil­ians came out of the house, a gun­bat­tle erupted in which two mil­i­tants were killed, a po­lice of­fi­cer said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity in keeping with depart­ment pol­icy. SP Vaid, the re­gion’s po­lice chief, said one of the dead mil­i­tants was a top com­man­der in­volved in the am­bush of a po­lice party last month in which six of­fi­cers were killed. Ear­lier, as news of the siege spread, hun­dreds of peo­ple from Dial­gam and neigh­bor­ing vil­lages broke the se­cu­rity lock­down and marched near the site in sol­i­dar­ity with the rebels while de­mand­ing an end to In­dian rule over the re­gion.

In­tense clashes erupted in and around the vil­lage as lo­cals threw rocks at the troops, who fired tear gas and shot­gun pel­lets to quell the spi­ral­ing protests. A young man was killed and at least 16 peo­ple were in­jured in the clashes. Author­i­ties snapped in­ter­net and cell­phone ser­vices in some parts of south­ern Kash­mir fol­low­ing the fight­ing. In re­cent years, Kash­miris, mainly youths, have dis­played open sol­i­dar­ity with anti-In­dia rebels and sought to pro­tect them by en­gag­ing troops in street clashes dur­ing mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against the mil­i­tants.

The anti-In­dia protests and clashes have per­sisted de­spite the In­dian army chief warn­ing re­cently that “tough ac­tion” would be taken against stone throw­ers dur­ing coun­terin­sur­gency op­er­a­tions. Nu­clear-armed ri­vals In­dia and Pak­istan each ad­min­is­ter part of Kash­mir, but both claim the Hi­malayan ter­ri­tory in its en­tirety. Rebel groups have been fight­ing since 1989 for Kash­mir’s in­de­pen­dence or merger with neigh­bor­ing Pak­istan. Nearly 70,000 peo­ple have been killed in the fight­ing and the en­su­ing In­dian crack­down.

Anti-In­dia sentiment runs deep among the re­gion’s mostly Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion and most peo­ple sup­port the rebels’ cause against In­dian rule de­spite a decades-long mil­i­tary crack­down to fight the armed re­bel­lion. In­dia has ac­cused Pak­istan of arm­ing and train­ing the rebels, which Pak­istan de­nies. Rebel groups have largely been sup­pressed by In­dian forces in re­cent years and pub­lic op­po­si­tion to In­dian rule is now prin­ci­pally ex­pressed through street protests. —AP

SRI­NA­GAR: Kash­miri pro­test­ers clash with In­dian gov­ern­ment forces af­ter in down­town Sri­na­gar.


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