Clashes af­ter three rebels killed by po­lice in Kash­mir

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SRI­NA­GAR: Thou­sands of pro­test­ers clashed with gov­ern­ment forces in In­dian-ad­min­is­tered Kash­mir yes­ter­day af­ter three lo­cal rebels were killed in a fire­fight with troops, po­lice said, with ten­sions al­ready high fol­low­ing the death of a pop­u­lar mil­i­tant com­man­der this week. Sol­diers and po­lice spe­cial coun­terin­sur­gency forces sur­rounded a neigh­bor­hood in So­pore town, 45 kilo­me­ters north­west of the main city of Sri­na­gar, af­ter “spe­cific in­for­ma­tion” that mil­i­tants were hid­ing in a house there, trig­ger­ing a fire­fight.

“Dur­ing the en­counter three mil­i­tants of LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) were elim­i­nated,” a po­lice state­ment said, adding that three au­to­matic as­sault ri­fles were re­cov­ered from the site of the clash. As news of the deaths spread, clashes be­tween lo­cal res­i­dents and gov­ern­ment forces broke out in many ar­eas. Three pro­test­ers were in­jured in the north­ern Bandi­pore area, home to one of the slain mil­i­tants, when sol­diers fired bul­lets as hun­dreds of an­gry lo­cal res­i­dents came out on the streets to pelt their con­voy with stones, a po­lice of­fi­cer said speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity.

In south­ern Kash­mir val­ley thou­sands of pro­test­ers clashed with gov­ern­ment forces who fired bul­lets in the air and used tear gas and stun grenades to dis­perse a crowds, which was chant­ing: “We want free­dom”. Yes­ter­day’s clash comes a day af­ter a lo­cal armed mil­i­tant and a civil­ian were killed by sol­diers dur­ing a shootout in Bi­jbe­hara area in the south of the restive ter­ri­tory where such clashes have be­come fre­quent since the start of the year.

Ten­sions have spiked across the In­dian-con­trolled ter­ri­tory since gov­ern­ment forces killed a pop­u­lar mil­i­tant com­man­der of LeT group, Abu Du­jana, in a fierce gun­bat­tle Tues­day. Kash­mir has been di­vided be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan since the end of British colo­nial rule in 1947, but both claim the ter­ri­tory in full. Rebel groups, in­clud­ing LeT, have fought for decades 500,000 In­dian sol­diers de­ployed in the ter­ri­tory, de­mand­ing in­de­pen­dence or a merger of the for­mer Hi­malayan king­dom with Pak­istan. Tens of thou­sands, mostly civil­ians have died in the fight­ing since the start of a coun­terin­sur­gency mil­i­tary cam­paign in 1989.

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