India police say five ‘foreign’ fighters killed in Kashmir

Officials claim the fighters were killed in a gunfight along the de facto border with neighbouring Pakistan.

kashmir security forces
Indian security personnel stand guard on a street in Srinagar [File: Danish Ismail/Reuters]

Indian police say security forces have killed five foreign fighters in a gunfight in Indian-administered Kashmir along the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border with Pakistan in the Himalayan region.

A joint team of Indian army and police prevented infiltration across the border by the fighters in the area, around 100km (62 miles) northwest of the region’s main city of Srinagar, police said early on Friday.

“Five foreign militants were killed in the operation in Jumagund area near the LOC. The search operation in the area is going on,” said Vijay Kumar, the chief of Indian police in Indian-administered Kashmir.

He did not specify their nationalities. Al Jazeera could not independently verify the incident.

Claimed in full by both India and Pakistan but only controlled in part by each of the nuclear-armed neighbours, Muslim-majority Kashmir has been the site of a bloody rebellion against New Delhi since 1989.

Hindu-majority India says Pakistan supports the rebellion in Kashmir. Islamabad denies the allegation, saying it only provides diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiri people.

Ashok Yadav, a senior Indian security official deployed for the security of the border, last week said the melting of snow in the mountains might open traditional infiltration routes along the LoC.

The Indian army said it has also foiled two infiltration attempts since Thursday.

Indian Army spokesman Devender Anand said in one instance, troops challenged the infiltrators but they managed to escape under the cover of darkness, bad weather and thick foliage.

“A large cache of arms and ammunition left by fleeing infiltrators was recovered during a search of the area,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people have died since 1989 when the rebellion in Indian-administered Kashmir seeking independence or a merger with Pakistan started in 1989.

India has more than half a million troops stationed in the Himalayan territory, making it one of the most militarised zones in the world.

But the frequency of armed clashes between Indian soldiers and rebels has dropped significantly in recent years as New Delhi tightens its grip over the territory.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government suddenly scrapped Indian-administered Kashmir’s limited autonomy in 2019.

Since then, several laws have been passed, permitting Indians outside the territory to resettle there, a policy denounced by critics as “settler colonialism”.

India has sought to portray the return of “normalcy” to the restive region and last month hosted a G20 tourism meeting in regional capital Srinagar.

Eleven government troops, 17 suspected rebels and 10 civilians have been killed in violence so far this year. Last year, at least 223 combatants and 30 civilians died in the region, according to official records.

Source: News Agencies