Two Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters killed in Kashmir raid
One civilian also killed during anti-India protests in Kashmir after gun battle that killed two separatists, police say.
At least two fighters and a civilian have been killed and several others wounded in clashes in the southern part of Indian-administered Kashmir, police said.
The gun battle started early on Saturday morning after security agencies received information about the presence of fighters linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba group in Litter village.
“Two terrorists were killed in the operation today; one of them was the district commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba. There were no casualties among the forces,” Shesh Paul Vaid, state police chief, said.
Police identified the slain civilian as 25-year-old old Gulzar Ahmad Mir from Lassipora village in Pulwama, 30km from the main city of Srinagar in the disputed region.
Vaid told Al Jazeera that Mir was shot when protesters started throwing stones at paramilitary personnel after the operation. The man later succumbed to his wounds.
Muhammad Aslam, Pulwama district police superintendent, said one more protester was in critical condition after suffering bullet wounds, while four others sustained minor injuries.
Police said that internet services were temporarily suspended in Pulwama district to prevent further disturbance of public order.
As the news of the killings spread on Saturday, thousands protested and clashed with police in several parts of southern Kashmir, where residents chanted slogans against India and in favour of Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The separatist group has fought against New Delhi’s rule since 1989.
On Wednesday, two Indian air force commandos and two fighters were killed in a gun battle in north Kashmir’s Bandipora village.
Three fighters and an Indian soldier were killed when the gunmen stormed an Indian army camp outside the region’s international airport.
In August, suicide attackers managed to enter the highly guarded police camp in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama and killed four policemen and four paramilitary personnel.
Separatist groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Indian-administered portion of Kashmir to become independent or merge with Pakistan.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
India maintains roughly 500,000 soldiers in the territory.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep among Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population, most of whom support the fighters’ cause against Indian rule, despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight the armed rebellion.
India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the fighters, which Pakistan denies.
Separatist groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.