Ten killed in violence across Indian occupied Kashmir


— File photo by AFP

SRINAGAR, India: Separate clashes in Indian-administered Kashmir killed 10 people — five police officers, a soldier, two civilians and two suspected rebels — authorities said Friday, as violence in the troubled region spikes.

Suspected rebels ambushed a police patrol in the town of Achhabal, killing five police personnel, a top police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Rebels fighting to end Indian rule of Kashmir have stepped up attacks in recent weeks on government forces patrolling the area as counter-insurgency operations intensify.

Earlier, soldiers and a police special counter-insurgency force cordoned off Arwani village on a tip off that armed rebels were hiding in two homes, triggering a firefight, the officer said.

Two civilians, including a teenage boy, were killed when security forces fired at hundreds of villagers who marched to the site of the shootout to help the rebels escape, he added.

Two suspected rebels were also killed in the shootout, the officer said.

The unrest spread to neighbouring villages as thousands of residents clashed with government forces, hurling stones and chanting: “We want freedom” and “Go India, go back”.

Separately on Friday, a soldier was killed when Pakistani soldiers fired at Indian posts in southern Naushera along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between the nuclear-armed rivals, an Indian Army spokesman said.

The two armies have traded heavy fire along the de facto border almost daily in recent weeks, killing civilians and soldiers on both sides while accusing each other of breaching a 2003 ceasefire agreement.
Kashmir has been divided between the arch rivals since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, but both claim the Himalayan territory in full.

India maintains roughly 500,000 soldiers in the territory and blames Pakistan for fomenting unrest. Islamabad denies the allegation saying it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle for the right of self-determination.

Officials say dozens of youth have joined the rebel ranks since last July after a popular rebel leader was killed by security forces, sparking months of wide-scale protests in the territory.—AFP