Influx of tourists a dramatic change for disputed region which faced the double whammy of COVID and security shutdowns.
Fighters in Indian-controlled Kashmir have killed two police officers in an attack in the disputed region’s main city, while elsewhere in the disputed Himalayan region three suspected rebels and a policeman were killed in two gun battles, officials said.
The violence on Friday came a day after diplomats from more than 20 countries, including from Africa, Europe and Latin America, stationed in India’s capital concluded a two-day visit to the region.
Police said fighters sprayed bullets at two policemen near a police station in Srinagar city. Both died later at a hospital.
A short video of the attack circulated on social media shows a man in a pheran, a Kashmiri tunic worn during the winter, taking out what appears to be an automatic rifle and shooting at the policemen. He then quickly runs away.
Police and soldiers searched the area and later detained a young man for questioning.
No armed group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a separate incident, a gunfight erupted shortly after dozens of police and soldiers launched an operation late on Thursday in a village in southern Shopian district following a tip that three fighters were there, Inspector-General Vijay Kumar said.
All three were killed in an exchange of gunfire early on Friday, Kumar said. He said police recovered two rifles and a pistol.
Residents said government forces used explosives on a civilian house during the fighting, a common tactic by Indian troops in Kashmir.
In another gun battle, fighters killed a policeman and injured another in western Beerwah area early on Friday, Kumar said.
Both India and Pakistan claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Many Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
New Delhi describes actions by Kashmir armed groups as Pakistan-sponsored “terrorism”. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle.
Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.