Indian army colonel and major along with a police officer and two other soldiers gunned down by suspected militants in India-administered Kashmir, a police officer said adding that reinforcement of special forces arrived and shot dead two rebels
Five Indian security personnel and two suspected militants were killed in a gun battle in India-administered Kashmir, officials said.
A five-member counterinsurgency team entered a house in northwestern Handwara area where rebels were holding hostages on late Saturday and “successfully extricated the civilians,” an Indian army statement said.
The security forces came under heavy gunfire from militants and in the ensuing firefight, two militants and all the team members died, it said.
The statement did not specify how many civilians were rescued. No militant group has immediately commented and there was no independent confirmation of the hostage-taking.
A police officer said an army colonel and a major along with a police officer and two other soldiers tried to storm the hideout when they were gunned down by the militants. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.
The officer said the reinforcement of special forces was called in and they shot dead the two militants but other two likely escaped.
New Delhi has stepped up its counterinsurgency operations across India-administered Kashmir in recent months despite a lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus. Militants fighting Indian rule have not ceased their attacks on government forces and alleged informants either.
There has also been almost daily fighting over the last several months along the rugged and mountainous highly militarised frontier that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Kashmir is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan, which have gone to war twice over it, and both rule parts of it. India’s portion has been plagued by separatist violence since the late 1980s.
On Friday, two Indian soldiers were killed in skirmishes along the Line of Control that divides the disputed region between India and Pakistan administered territories. On Wednesday, a Pakistani soldier and three civilians on both sides of Kashmir were killed in another bout of fighting.
New Delhi revoked the constitutional autonomy of India-administered Kashmir in August 2019.
The change in status was accompanied by a security crackdown that included the severing of telecommunications links and curbs on travel and the deployment of thousands of troops.
Critics say the change in law, which allows outsiders to buy properties in the disputed region, aims to change the demographics of the only Muslim-majority region under New Delhi's rule.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in India-administered Kashmir's mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels' cause against Indian rule. Nearly 100,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown since 1989.
Rebel groups in Indian-held Kashmir demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training anti-India rebels. Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to the militants and to Kashmiris who oppose Indian rule.
The Indian military has been accused of suppressing the Kashmiri uprising using brutal tactics, including the infamous pellet guns, which have wounded or blinded many Kashmiris.