Anti-India protests have continued for a second day on Monday in Indian-administered Kashmir after the Indian forces killed at least nine rebels in the disputed region.
The rebels, including three commanders, were killed in separate gunfights with the security forces in Shopian district, some 70km (43 miles) south of the capital, Srinagar. The fighting began on Sunday.
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Four rebels were killed in the Pinjora area on Monday morning after the government forces set up a cordon and search operation when they received intelligence about the presence of the fighters, who either want Kashmir’s independence or a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan.
Five other rebels were killed in a gunfight with the forces in Shopian district’s Reban area on Sunday afternoon. Police said three soldiers were wounded.
“Nine militants of the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, including its three top commanders, have been neutralized in less than 24 hours,” state police chief Dilbagh Singh told reporters on Monday.
Singh said the Indian security forces have eliminated 22 rebels, including six top commanders, during the past two weeks.
Police said 73 rebels have been killed in the Muslim-majority region this year.
In April alone, more than two dozen rebels and about a dozen Indian troops were killed, the most in any month since August 2019, when India revoked the region’s semi-autonomous status and statehood, and imposed direct federal rule.
The latest killings sparked protests and clashes as hundreds of residents tried to march to the site of the battle.
Chanting slogans demanding an end to India’s occupation of Kashmir, demonstrators threw stones at police and paramilitary soldiers, who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas.
No casualties were immediately reported in the clashes.
India has stepped up its operations across Kashmir in recent months, with almost daily fighting reported along the rugged and mountainous frontier that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Since 1989, the conflict has resulted in nearly 70,000 deaths, most of them civilians.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the anti-India rebels. Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to the rebels and to Kashmiri civilians who oppose Indian rule.