Tuesday’s bloodshed in the region occurred as moderate separatist leaders left for New Delhi for their first-ever talks with the Indian government, scheduled to begin on Thursday. 

Security forces said four fighters were killed in three clashes spread over southern Kashmir.

Another top-ranking fighter of the Harkat-e-Jehadi Islami died in a group clash with the members of the Hizb Allah in southern Doda district, a police spokesman said.

Meanwhile, an Indian policeman was killed in Udhampur after a landmine went off. A student was also killed in an “ambush laid by security forces” in Baramulla district.

Locals protested the student’s killing and blocked a highway.

Upcoming talks

But despite the day’s violence, leaders of the moderate separatist Hurriyat alliance left for the Indian capital to attend the proposed talks.

Hardliners have already warned the moderates that they would meet a “bad end” if they compromised in the talks.

With nearly a dozen armed groups seeking Kashmir’s independence from Indian rule, the conflict has been raging for years. More than 38,000 people have died in the resultant violence. Separatists, however, say double the number of people have died.