Though a majority of those killed were civilians, a couple of Kashmiri fighters and an Indian army official were also among the dead.

A police spokesman said two Kashmiri fighters, a civilian and an army official were killed in a gun battle in Kashmir’s central district of Budgam. 

Twelve civilians, including two political activists and four fighters were killed in other incidents in the state since Friday evening.

Several others including two Indian soldiers were also wounded when Kashmiri fighters attacked a patrol in Kulgam, south of Kashmir.

The upsurge in violence comes in the wake of intensified military operations by the Indian army to hunt down Kashmiri fighters within Indian-controlled territory.

Violent past

Kashmir had been raked by violence since 1989, with separatists demanding its independence from Indian-rule. The resultant upheaval has left more than 38,000 dead according to Indian estimates. Kashmiri fighters say the death toll is twice as high.

But amid the resurgent violence, authorities in Indian administered Kashmir lifted a night time ban on civilian traffic along the region’s main highway for the first time in 14 years.

The 300-km highway, linking the Muslim dominated Kashmir valley and the predominantly Hindu-Jammu region, has long been a key target of the Kashmiri fighters since it is the only land route for Indian troops heading to trouble torn interiors of the state.

Fearful of attacks, the Indian authorities used to close the highway for civilian traffic at every sunset.

“The highway will now be open until midnight,” said Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, the chief minister of the Indian provincial government.