Anti-India protests erupt in Kashmir after troops kill 3 rebels

At least four civilians were injured in the protest against the killing of three suspected rebels by Indian soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both in its entirety [File: Mukhtar Khan/AP Photo]

Anti-India protests have erupted in a village in Indian-administered Kashmir following the killing of three suspected rebel fighters in a gun battle with Indian troops in Pulwama district, police and residents said.

The gunfight erupted shortly after scores of counterinsurgency police and soldiers launched an operation based on a tip-off about the presence of rebels in Kakpora village in southern Pulwama district, Inspector General Vijay Kumar said on Friday.

Kumar claimed two of the three slain men had been involved in fatally shooting a policeman guarding the home of a local politician from India’s governing party in the region’s main city of Srinagar on Thursday.

He said troops recovered two rifles and a pistol from the site of Friday’s clash, and that one of the recovered weapons had been taken by the rebels from the slain policeman.

Residents said troops used explosives to blast a civilian house during the fighting, a common tactic employed by Indian troops in Kashmir.

March in solidarity with rebels

As the fighting raged, hundreds of people marched nearby in solidarity with the rebels while chanting slogans seeking the end of Indian rule over the region. Government forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the stone-throwing protesters.

At least four civilians were injured in the clashes, including a woman with a bullet injury in her leg.

Kumar, however, said the woman was injured in the crossfire between Indian troops and suspected rebels.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both in its entirety. Many Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Indian officials describe the Kashmir rebellion 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 since the armed rebellion against Indian rule erupted in 1989.

In a surprising decision last month, India and Pakistan agreed to reaffirm their 2003 ceasefire accord that has silenced guns along the de facto frontier dividing Kashmir.

However, a crackdown by Indian forces and attacks by rebels have continued inside the Indian-held portion of Kashmir.

Source: AP