Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – Six separatists and an Indian air force commando have been killed in a fierce gun battle in Indian-administered Kashmir, according to police.
Security forces on Saturday launched an operation in Hajin village, 40km from the main city of Srinagar, after receiving intelligence information about the presence of separatist fighters in the area.
Shesh Paul Vaid, state police chief, told Al Jazeera that security forces had killed six fighters linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group.
“The operation is over,” Vaid told Al Jazeera. “All the six terrorists killed today were Pakistani,” the state police chief told Al Jazeera.
Inspector General of Police Munir Khan confirmed to Al Jazeera that one Indian Air Force commando was killed and another one wounded in the fighting.
As the news of the killings spread, protesting residents chanting anti-India slogans took to the streets in various parts of Kashmir.
In Hajin, police attempted to disperse protesters and prevent them from reaching the site of the gun battle, according to a junior-ranking officer in the area.
Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Indian-administered portion 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 and most support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule despite a decades-long military crackdown to fight the armed rebellion.
India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.
Earlier on Saturday, thousands of people in Srinagar attended the funeral of separatist fighter Mugees Ahmad Mir, who was killed in a shoot-out with security forces on Friday night.
Many local youth spent the night in the cold outside Mir’s house, where his body was kept overnight.
Fearing violent clashes, authorities put volatile areas of Srinagar under curfew and ordered the closure of schools and colleges to prevent protests from spiralling.