SRINAGAR, India – Government forces killed two rebels during a gunbattle on the outskirts of disputed Kashmir’s main city on Wednesday, sparking violent anti-India protests by residents, police said.
Indian troops laid a siege around a neighborhood in Srinagar following a tip that militants were hiding there, police said.
The searches by troops triggered an exchange of gunfire resulting in the deaths of two militants and injuries to four soldiers and two counterinsurgency policemen.
Residents said Indian troops burned a civilian home where the rebels took refuge during the fighting.
The fighting sparked protests and clashes as residents tried to march to the site of the battle in solidarity with the militants. Chanting slogans in favor of the militants and demanding an end to Indian rule over Kashmir, the demonstrators threw stones at police and paramilitary soldiers, who fired warning shots, shotgun pellets and tear gas to quell the protests. At least half a dozen people were injured.
The region witnessed massive anger, anti-India protests and shutdowns amid a security lockdown following the killing Sunday of seven civilians in an explosion after three local rebels died in a gunfight in the southern Kulgam area.
Last week, two local rebels, a civilian and a counterinsurgency police official were killed in fighting in Srinagar.
India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety.
Most Kashmiris support rebel demands that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control. In recent years, mainly young Kashmiris have displayed open solidarity with the rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations.
Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown. AP