Gun battle between Indian troops and Kashmiri rebels sparks protests in India-administered Kashmir where more than 550 people including 150 civilians were killed in 2018, deadliest year in a decade, according to a monitoring group.

An unidentified Kashmiri man kisses the body of Nadeem Sofi, a local rebel after collecting it from an Indian army camp in Tral, south of Srinagar, India-administered Kashmir, Saturday, December 22, 2018.
An unidentified Kashmiri man kisses the body of Nadeem Sofi, a local rebel after collecting it from an Indian army camp in Tral, south of Srinagar, India-administered Kashmir, Saturday, December 22, 2018. (AP)

A gun battle between Indian troops and rebels early on Saturday left six suspected militants dead and triggered a new round of anti-India protests in the disputed Himalayan region.

The fighting began after Indian soldiers and police raided a suspected militant hideout in Tral area, sparking a gunfight in which six suspected militants were killed, police said.

As the news of the killings spread, hundreds of civilians took to the streets, clashing with Indian troops and police at several places. 

No injuries have been immediately reported.

Eye witnesses said hundreds of locals came out on the streets and clashed with police, who had to fire tear gas to disperse them.

Authorities also suspended mobile internet and train services in the Kashmir valley to prevent a large gathering of protestors.

All six rebels belonged to Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a small Kashmiri rebel group whose now only surviving member is its chief Zakir Musa, top police officer Munir Ahmad Khan told AFP news agency. 

#Video | Thousands attend the funeral of slain militants in Tral. Six militants were killed in a gunfight with forces at Arampora area of Awantipora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday.

Posted by The Rising Kashmir on Saturday, December 22, 2018

Deadliest year 

This has been the deadliest year in a decade in Kashmir, with more than 550 people including 150 civilians killed, according to a monitoring group.

In a separate incident, the Indian army accused rival Pakistan of opening fire in northern Keran sector of the disputed region and killing two Indian army officers on Friday.

The Indian army called the firing a violation of the 2003 ceasefire accord between the nuclear-armed rivals that each claim the divided territory in its entirety.

Pakistan did not comment on the Indian allegations. 

In the past, each country has accused the other of initiating the firing and violating the ceasefire agreement.

Six militants were killed in a brief encounter at Tral area of Awantipora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on...

Posted by Kashmir Monitor on Saturday, December 22, 2018

Support for rebels

Rebels in India-administered Kashmir have intensively renewed the fight against New Delhi's control of the disputed region since 1989. 

Most residents of India-administered Kashmir support the rebel cause that the Muslim-majority territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

India, which has stationed over 500,000 troops in the tiny Himalayan region, accuses Pakistan of arming and training few hundred rebels, a charge Pakistan denies. 

Nearly 100,000 people, mostly Muslims, have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies