Cur­few im­posed af­ter rebels killed in Kash­mir

Kuwait Times - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL -

Au­thor­i­ties im­posed a cur­few yes­ter­day in parts of In­dian-ad­min­is­tered Kash­mir af­ter three rebels were killed in a fire­fight with gov­ern­ment forces, po­lice said. The shootout overnight, west of the main city of Sri­na­gar, comes amid high ten­sion af­ter sus­pected mil­i­tants shot dead seven Hindu pil­grims and in­jured 19 oth­ers in the dis­puted Hi­malayan ter­ri­tory. Sol­diers and coun­terin­sur­gency po­lice cor­doned off a neigh­bor­hood in Red­bugh vil­lage late Tues­day af­ter learn­ing about the pres­ence of armed rebels in a house, a po­lice of­fi­cer said.

“Af­ter the night-long stand­off, all three mil­i­tants were killed when they tried to break the cor­don,” the of­fi­cer said on con­di­tion of anonymity. “Their weapons and bod­ies have been re­cov­ered and iden­ti­fied as lo­cals.” Fear­ing res­i­dents could pour onto the streets for the funer­als of the slain rebels, au­thor­i­ties im­posed a cur­few in parts of Sri­na­gar and erected check­points and block­ades along main roads. Shop­keep­ers in Sri­na­gar’s main com­mer­cial cen­tre Lal Chowk shut­tered their busi­nesses for the day.

There is no sug­ges­tion the shootout was linked to the at­tack on a bus shut­tling Hin­dus on an an­nual pil­grim­age to a Hi­malayan cave revered as the abode of the god Shiva. Some of­fi­cials have blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba, a pro-Pak­istan mil­i­tant group, for that at­tack but it has de­nied any role. Ji­ten­dra Singh, min­is­ter of state in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice, said po­lice and se­cu­rity forces were still car­ry­ing out in­ves­ti­ga­tions. “No one should jump to any con­clu­sion on the at­tack. Let us wait for the def­i­nite in­fer­ences and in­puts,” he told re­porters in Sri­na­gar.

Kash­mir has been di­vided be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan since their in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tish colo­nial rule in 1947 but both claim the for­mer king­dom in its en­tirety. Rebel groups, in­clud­ing Lashkare-Taiba, have fought for decades roughly 500,000 sol­diers de­ployed in the In­di­an­con­trolled part of the dis­puted re­gion, de­mand­ing in­de­pen­dence or a merger with Pak­istan. The fight­ing has left tens of thou­sands, mostly civil­ians, dead. Armed en­coun­ters be­tween rebels and gov­ern­ment forces have be­come more fre­quent since the killing of a hugely pop­u­lar mil­i­tant leader last July, which prompted dozens of lo­cal youth to join the rebel ranks. —AFP

SRI­NA­GAR: Kash­miri peo­ple carry the body of a lo­cal rebel Aqib Ah­mad dur­ing his fu­neral pro­ces­sion in Sri­na­gar, Kash­mir. —AP

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