Indian troops kill five rebels in three separate gun battles and one civilian in India-administered Kashmir, provoking fresh protests and clashes in the restive mountainous region.
A 12-year-old boy was among six people killed in three separate gun battles between rebels and Indian soldiers and police in India-administered Kashmir, police and army said on Friday.
The boy was killed after rebels were trapped in his home in the northern town of Hajin and engaged in a two-day gun battle ending Friday, police told AFP news agency. His father escaped.
Police later claimed the boy was "kept hostage" by the rebels. There has been no counterclaim by rebels so far.
"Circumstances which led to the death of boy were still shrouded in mystery as only police version was available," local newspaper Kashmir Observer reported.
While repression,killings and arbitrary arrests continue unabated,for the 3rd time this month #JamaMasjid put under lockdown and Friday prayers disallowed. Condemn the authorities for this religious assault. pic.twitter.com/r71juBplcn— Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (@MirwaizKashmir) March 22, 2019
Dozens wounded in pellet firing
Two more rebels were killed late Thursday in the frontier district of Baramulla, Kalia added, while one soldier and two policemen were injured, officials said.
Another rebel died in a clash with Indian soldiers in the south of the Kashmir valley, army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.
At least a dozen villagers were wounded when Indian forces clashed with protesters near the site of the fighting, firing metal pellets and live bullets to push them back.
Three of the villagers were taken to the hospital in Srinagar and were in critical condition, a local police officer and hospital sources said.
The civilian house blown up by Indian soldiers to kill two militants, a minor civilian boy in Hajin Bandipora. I’m not sure if any army in the world will blow up the house, set it on fire with a minor boy still trapped inside. Geneva convention, anyone?— Kashmir Intel (@KashmirIntel) March 22, 2019
Support for rebels
Entire neighbourhoods in Kashmir often march towards sites of gun battles between rebels and government forces, attempting to rescue rebels.
Scores of civilians have died during such clashes.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since British colonial rule ended in 1947. Both claim it in full and have fought two wars over the territory.
India has about 500,000 soldiers in the part it controls, where armed groups are fighting in a popular revolt for independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Most Kashmiris support the rebel cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.
Clashes have raged in the restive mountainous region since the deaths of 40 Indian troops in a suicide bombing last month provoked tit-for-tat air strikes between India and Pakistan.
Atif (12) was killed during the encounter at Hajin when the house in which militants were hiding was destroyed by armed forces. Atif was held hostage by militants. Militants & armed forces are both responsible for this murder. Surely militants are accused of a horrible crime.— Khurram Parvez (@KhurramParvez) March 22, 2019
Protests over custodial killing
Last month's suicide blast was claimed by a militant group based and proscribed in Pakistan, and New Delhi has long accused Islamabad of backing a 30-year insurgency that has left tens of thousands of people dead, mostly civilians.
Also the death in police custody on Tuesday of teacher Rizwan Asad Pandit – one of around 1,000 people detained in recent weeks – has further enraged locals.
Pandit's family claimed the young man was tortured, saying his bones and even his spine were broken and that his body bore cuts and clear signs of torture.
An investigation is ongoing, but police have registered a case alleging he attempted to escape from custody, prompting angry demonstrations across Kashmir in recent days.