SRINAGAR • Three militants were killed in a shoot-out with Indian government forces in the heart of Kashmir’s main city Srinagar, police said on Sunday, two days after eight rebels died in another gun battle.
New Delhi has been stepping up counter-insurgency efforts in the disputed territory since the nationwide coronavirus lockdown was imposed in late March.
The militants 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 Agence France-Presse. One home was destroyed during the clash.
Indian-administered Kashmir has been in turmoil since last August, when New Delhi revoked its semi-autonomous status and imposed a communications blackout that has not been fully lifted.
Pakistan criticised the change in Kashmir’s status, and there have been frequent exchanges of fire across the heavily militarised border between the nuclear-armed rivals.
On Sunday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had summoned the Indian charge d’affaires “to register Pakistan’s strong protest over the ceasefire violations” that, it said, led to the death of a teenage resident the day before. Two other civilians, including a child, were seriously hurt, the ministry said.
The clash in Srinagar was the second such encounter in the old city and brought the death toll of alleged militants to more than 100 this year.
Just over a month ago, the son of a top separatist 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 government forces in Srinagar in two years.
Rebel groups have fought for decades for the region’s independence or its merger with Pakistan, and they enjoy broad popular support.
The fighting has left tens of thousands dead, most of them civilians, since 1989.
India has more than 500,000 troops stationed in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory also claimed by Pakistan.
It regularly blames Pakistan for arming and training rebels before sending them across the border, an accusation that Islamabad denies.