Four suspected rebels killed in occupied Kashmir


-File Photo

SRINAGAR: Indian soldiers killed four suspected rebels Saturday along the highly militarized de-facto border that divides the disputed region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan, the Indian army said.

A gun battle erupted after the four militants crossed from the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir into the Indian-held portion in western Rampur sector, said Indian army’s spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia.

There was no independent confirmation of the incident.

Separately, a gunfight erupted early Saturday between rebels and government forces in southern Tral area, police said. The fighting began after troops cordoned off the area overnight following a tip that at least three rebels were hiding there.

As the fighting raged, hundreds of residents chanting anti-India slogans marched in an attempt to help the trapped rebels escape.

Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir’s independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting and the ensuing Indian crackdown. India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

Rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years. However, public opposition to Indian rule remains deep and is now principally expressed through street protests marked by youths hurling stones at government forces. —AP