Four people died during a gun battle and subsequent clashes in India-administered Kashmir, officials say.

Kashmiri villagers participate in the funeral of local rebel Arif Lelhari in south Kashmir. August 1, 2017.
Kashmiri villagers participate in the funeral of local rebel Arif Lelhari in south Kashmir. August 1, 2017.

Anti-India protests and clashes spearheaded mostly by students erupted in India-administered Kashmir on Tuesday after government forces killed two rebels in a gun battle and fatally shot two civilians during an ensuing demonstration demanding an end to Indian rule.

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir's mostly Muslim population and most people support the armed cause against Indian rule.

Police Inspector-General Muneer Ahmed Khan said the two militants were killed after police and soldiers on a tip cordoned off southern Hakripora village.

Villagers said troops blasted two civilian homes with explosives during the operation.

Police said the bodies of the two rebels were charred "nearly beyond recognition."

As the gun battle raged, residents defied the lockdown and clashed with government forces near the site of the fighting in an attempt to help the trapped rebels escape.

A young man identified as Firdous Ahmad was killed and scores of others were injured in the clashes in the village. Another civilian - identified as Akeel Ahmad Bhat and who was shot in the abdomen - died in a hospital, local media said.

The protests following the killings spread across the region and were led mostly by students, after which authorities ordered the closure of educational institutions.

The pregnant wife (C) of Kashmiri civilian Firdous Ahmad mourns during his funeral in Pulwama district of the disputed region. (AFP)
The pregnant wife (C) of Kashmiri civilian Firdous Ahmad mourns during his funeral in Pulwama district of the disputed region. (AFP)

Students protest killings

Large protests and clashes against Indian rule spread to several other places across Kashmir, including the Himalayan region's main city of Srinagar, as students boycotted classes and hit the streets.

Demanding the end of Indian rule, the students hurled rocks at government forces after being stopped outside schools and colleges.

Troops fired shotgun pellets and tear gas, leading to pitched battles, including in Srinagar's main commercial hub, where streets were strewn with rocks and broken bricks and the stench of tear gas filled the air.

Dozens more were injured in subsequent clashes.

Authorities closed all educational institutions on Tuesday and Wednesday as a "precautionary measure," said Baseer Khan, a top civilian administrator.

Officials also blocked internet service in the region to stop activists from using social media to rally support against Indian rule.

Pro-independence leaders, who challenge India's sovereignty over Kashmir, called for a shutdown on Wednesday to protest the killings.

Police described one of the slain militants as a top commander of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and identified him as Abu Dujana. LeT has been accused of orchestrating the Mumbai attack of 2008.

"He knew the territory like the back of his hand. He was very, very mobile," a police officer said on condition of anonymity.

His death is one of the biggest blows to the Kashmiri cause since the death of another commander, Burhan Wani, in July last year.

The second rebel was identified as Arif Lehari, a local.

People stand on the rubble of a house after it was blasted during a gun battle between rebels and Indian troops. (Reuters)
People stand on the rubble of a house after it was blasted during a gun battle between rebels and Indian troops. (Reuters)

Source: AP