Five people killed in separate incidents in disputed Kashmir

Indian troops shot dead two suspected rebels in northern Sopore town in India-administered Kashmir. Separately, three people were killed near the de facto border Line of Control during shelling between the Indian and Pakistani armies.

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

Rebel groups have for decades fought against roughly 500,000 Indian soldiers who were deployed to the territory.

At least five people including two rebel fighters were killed in disputed Kashmir on Thursday, officials said.

Indian soldiers shot dead two suspected rebels during a pre-dawn skirmish in Indian-administered Kashmir, days after killing a top rebel commander in the disputed territory.

Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said the soldiers and special forces police surrounded a home in northern Nathipora village of Sopore town, where they engaged in gunfire with rebels hiding inside.

The killings triggered massive anti-India demonstrations as thousands of villagers shouted pro-Independence and pro-Pakistan slogans while they marched during the funeral of the rebels, according to Kashmir Life newspaper.

The shootout comes amid renewed tensions and fresh protests against Indian rule in the territory following the death of top rebel commander Sabzar Bhat last Saturday in a gun battle with soldiers.

Shelling on de facto border

Two civilians were killed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in "unprovoked firing" from the Indian soldiers on the de facto border Line of Control (LoC), that divides the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.

Mohammad Usman, a police official in the southern Poonch district of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said that the shelling started in the morning in which two civilians were killed and six wounded.

"The civilian population in the vulnerable villages was caught off guard by the unprovoked firing," Usman said. "It was intense."

The Indian army said one person was killed and one wounded in India-administered Kashmir, blaming Pakistan for starting the exchange of fire.

Indian troops last week said they attacked and damaged Pakistani army posts in Kashmir as they sought to prevent militants infiltrating from the Pakistani side, but Islamabad denied the claim.

The Pakistani army released a counter video showing Indian bunkers being razed in the Pakistani shelling. 

Tense situation

Kashmir, where anti-India sentiments run deep, has been divided between Pakistan and India since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 but both lay claim to the entire territory.

Rebel groups have fought for decades roughly 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or a merger of the former princely state with Pakistan.

Thursday's shoot-out comes amid renewed tensions and fresh protests against Indian rule in the territory following the death of popular rebel commander Sabzar Bhat last Saturday in a gun battle with Indian soldiers.

The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.

Younger Kashmiris have been increasingly joining rebel ranks since the shooting death of a popular militant commander in July last year.

More than 30 militants have been killed by Indian soldiers since then, prompting more frequent clashes between rebels and government forces.

TRTWorld and agencies