SRINAGAR: Two Indian soldiers and two rebels were killed in armed clashes yesterday, officials said, in another day of bloodshed in Kashmir where tensions are high following the death of a prominent militant. The rebels were killed in Kulgam, south of the main city of Srinagar in Kashmir, when they walked into an ambush laid by Indian soldiers.
“It was a deliberate and swift operation,” an army officer said. In a separate incident, two Indian troops were killed and another injured in a shootout with militants in Shopian district, the officer said on condition of anonymity.
The soldiers came under fire as they surrounded a house suspected of harboring militants, and were evacuated from the scene. It was not clear if the rebels inside evaded capture. “Three soldiers were evacuated by air but two of them died before reaching a military hospital,” a police officer said.
The violence comes just days after Indian forces killed top militant commander Abu Dujana, who headed the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group in Kashmir. His death sparked protests and violent clashes across Kashmir, in which two civilians, including a teenage student, were killed. Schools and colleges remained shut yesterday amid fears of further protests against Indian rule.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the restive region in full. For decades rebel groups, including LeT, have fought 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or a merger of the former Himalayan kingdom with Pakistan. The fighting and India’s counterinsurgency campaign since 1989 has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead. – AFP