3 rebels, 2 In­dian sol­diers killed in Kash­mir fight­ing

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Three Kash­miri rebels and two In­dian sol­diers have been killed in a fierce gun­bat­tle in the dis­puted Hi­malayan re­gion, po­lice said yes­ter­day. The fight­ing erupted Satur­day after In­dian troops raided southern Awneera vil­lage on a tip that at least seven rebels fight­ing New Delhi’s rule over Kash­mir were hid­ing there, said top po­lice of­fi­cer SP Vaid.

He said mil­i­tants lobbed hand grenades and fired au­to­matic ri­fles from two civil­ian homes and an ap­ple orchard, killing two sol­diers. At least three other sol­diers were wounded. Po­lice said the fir­ing stopped late in the night but re­sumed early yes­ter­day, when three rebels were killed. Vaid said they were af­fil­i­ated with the Hizbul Mu­jahideen, the largest Kash­miri in­sur­gent group.

Res­i­dents said a civil­ian home was de­stroyed after troops blasted it with ex­plo­sives. Anti-In­dia protests fol­lowed the fight­ing Satur­day and Sun­day, lead­ing to clashes be­tween rock-throw­ing res­i­dents and gov­ern­ment forces who fired shot­gun pel­lets and tear gas. At least seven pro­test­ers were re­ported in­jured in the clashes.

Sep­a­rately, two po­lice of­fi­cials and a sol­dier were in­jured after rebels sprayed gun­fire at gov­ern­ment forces lay­ing a cor­don in north­east­ern Ha­jin area early yes­ter­day. Also yes­ter­day, a civil­ian who was wounded in a petrol bomb at­tack in the re­gion’s main city of Srinagar died in a hos­pi­tal. Po­lice said un­known per­pe­tra­tors hurled the bomb at a po­lice party on Satur­day but missed the tar­get, hit­ting the passer-by. 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 de­mand that Kash­mir be united ei­ther un­der Pak­istani rule or as an in­de­pen­dent coun­try. An­tiIn­dia sen­ti­ment runs deep in Kash­mir’s mostly Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion and most peo­ple sup­port the rebels’ cause against In­dian rule. Nearly 70,000 peo­ple have been killed in the uprising and the en­su­ing In­dian mil­i­tary crack­down. In­dia ac­cuses Pak­istan of arm­ing and train­ing the rebels, which Pak­istan de­nies.

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