At least five suspected rebels have been killed by Indian security forces in a eight-hour-long gun fight in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Zee TV news channel reported on Thursday that five rebels were killed near the town of Shopian after Indian soldiers and police received a tip-off that rebels opposed to Indian rule in Kashmir were hiding there.
“All the five militants have been killed and their identities are being ascertained,” Abdul Gani Mir, the region’s inspector general of police told the AFP news agency.
The battle comes less than a day after gun fight between a rebel and government troops in Sopore left one person dead.
Since October, thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes near the border, as clashes killed more than two dozen people, including civilians and soldiers from both sides.
More than 60,000 people have been killed during the decades-long conflict in Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan, and both claim the territory in its entirety.
Public opposition to Indian rule remains widespread in the mostly Muslim territory, where about a dozen rebel groups have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989 to win Kashmir’s independence or have the Indian-controlled portion merge with Pakistan.
The rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian troops in recent years, and resistance is now principally expressed through street protests.