Angry locals stage protests after three rebels were killed in disputed region's main Srinagar city. Separately, a 13-year-old girl was killed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir by Indian fire along de facto border.

Brother of one of the rebels weeps during the funeral prayers in absentia in Srinagar, Kashmir on June 21,2020.
Brother of one of the rebels weeps during the funeral prayers in absentia in Srinagar, Kashmir on June 21,2020. (AA)

Three rebel fighters have been killed in a gun battle with Indian troops in the heart of the restive Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, two days after eight rebels were killed in another gunfight.

The rebels were killed in a firefight in the Zoonimar area of the densely populated old city of Srinagar, a police officer who asked to remain anonymous told AFP news agency on Sunday.

One home was destroyed during the clashes. The killings of rebels stoked fresh protests in the area, witnesses said.

India snapped mobile and internet services in the entire Srinagar district, local media reported.

This was a second such encounter in the old city and took the death toll of alleged rebel fighters to over 100 this year.

India ups raids despite coronavirus 

New Delhi has been stepping up counter-insurgency efforts in the disputed territory since the nationwide coronavirus lockdown was imposed in late March.

Just over a month ago, the son of a top resistance leader and his associate were killed in the city.

The May incident – a day-long firefight that saw 15 homes blown up by police and soldiers – was the first armed encounter between rebels and Indian troops in Srinagar in two years.

READ MORE: How India and Israel use the pandemic to expand settler-colonial projects 

Popular uprising 

Rebel groups have fought for decades for the region's independence or its merger with Pakistan and enjoy broad popular support.

The fighting has left tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians, since 1989.

India has more than 500,000 troops stationed in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory also claimed by Pakistan. 

READ MORE: Kashmir's never-ending conflict, a timeline of 70 years

Indian fire kills teenager in Pakistani Kashmir

A 13-year-old girl was killed in Pakistani-administered Kashmir on Sunday in an exchange of gunfire along the de facto border with the Indian-administered side of the region, according to the Pakistani military.

Amid heightened tensions between the South Asian nuclear rivals, the Pakistani army accused Indian border forces of targeting civilians on the Pakistani side of the disputed Kashmir valley, claiming that the girl's mother and a 12-year-old boy were also wounded due to "indiscriminate" fire.

Mortars fired by Indian troops also damaged several homes, according to local media reports and government officials. 

In neighbouring India, the local police blamed Pakistani troops for initiating the fire, saying Pakistani mortar shelling wounded five civilians on their side of Kashmir.

OIC to hold emergency meeting

Also on Sunday, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) contact group on Kashmir said it will hold an emergency meeting via videoconference on Monday to discuss the latest situation in the disputed territory.

The online meet will bring together the foreign ministers of the member states: Turkey, Azerbaijan, Niger, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, the OIC said in a statement.

"The meeting is part of a series of continuous Jammu and Kashmir Contact Group meetings to address the issue," OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al Othaimeen said. 

Tensions have soared between Pakistan and India since last August, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government revoked Muslim-majority Kashmir's decades-old semi-autonomous status, touching off anger in Indian-controlled Kashmir and in Pakistan. 

Pakistan wants the changes reversed.

Kashmiris say India plans to enact a demographic change in the region by settling Hindu outsiders.  

READ MORE: Timeline: 100 days of Kashmir's autonomy loss, lockdown

China-India tension

Kashmir is also a source of tensions between China and Assam.

This week, a deadly brawl between Indian and Chinese soldiers caused the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers in the eastern Galwan Valley, an achingly beautiful landscape that is part of a border region that has been disputed for decades because of its strategic importance as the world’s highest landing ground.

Map shows the location of Galwan valley in disputed Kashmir along contested border between India and China, where troops from both countries clashed.
Map shows the location of Galwan valley in disputed Kashmir along contested border between India and China, where troops from both countries clashed. (TRTWorld)

Tensions have surged since August after India unilaterally declared the Ladakh region a federal territory while separating it from disputed Kashmir. 

China is among a handful of countries that strongly condemned the move, raising it at international forums including the UN Security Council.

Indian officials have kept a near-total silence on issues related to the confrontation with China. 

Timeline: the Line of Actual Control between China and India

Source: TRTWorld and agencies