Five rebels killed in Indian Kashmir
August 30, 2013 - 11:02:20 am
SRINAGAR: Indian police and troops killed five suspected rebels in an overnight gun battle Friday in a forested area of northern Kashmir, triggering anti-India protests by local residents, police said.
Police and an army contingent began a joint operation around midnight near the Najwan forests, 35 kilometres or 20 miles north of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.
"The group of militants was leaving one forest area for another when we intercepted and challenged them."
"All the five were killed in the ensuing firefight," superintendent of police Shahid Meraj told AFP.
He said all five rebels had come from Pakistan-administered Kashmir around a year earlier and belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest Kashmiri militant group fighting Indian forces in the region.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by a heavily militarised line of control (LoC) since the two countries won independence from Britain in 1947.
Both claim the disputed Himalayan territory in full.
About a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or merger of the territory with Pakistan.
The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.
Militants are threatening an "unprecedented" surge in attacks on Indian targets as battle-hardened fighters from Afghanistan prepare to target the region, according to rebel leaders on the Pakistan side.
During the last two months, the Indian army claims to have killed 28 rebels in various gun battles near the forested areas of northern Kashmir.
Hundreds of residents gathered in the area after Friday's deaths chanting "We want freedom" after the bodies of the five men were handed over to them for burial.
In a separate incident Friday night, the army claimed to have thwarted a bid by an unknown number of rebels to infiltrate from across the LoC in Akhnoor, 340 kilometres southwest of Srinagar.
According to the Indian army attempts by rebels to infiltrate into Indian Kashmir this summer have more than doubled compared to the same period last year. (AFP)