Six killed in surge of unrest in Indian Kashmir

The military said that 61 suspected rebels have been killed this year so far. PHOTO: AFP

SRINAGAR (AFP) - Five suspected rebels and a soldier were killed on Friday (July 2) in the latest of a series of clashes in Indian Kashmir that have left 17 dead in two weeks, police said.

The six died in a gunfight in the Rajpora area of the Kashmir valley that started on Thursday night. Police said the five militants were members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group.

The troubled Muslim-majority region, also claimed by Pakistan, has seen a new rise in unrest in recent weeks.

Three suspected rebels were killed by soldiers in the Kulgam forest on Wednesday, a day after police said an influential rebel commander Nadeem Abrar was killed with a Pakistani associate while in custody.

The commander, captured on Monday, was taken to a house where he had hidden a rifle and was killed after his associate fired at security forces as they approached, police said.

Suspected rebels have used hand grenades and automatic weapons in other earlier attacks, killing six people including a police intelligence officer, a special police officer and his wife and daughter, a shopkeeper and one civilian.

The military said on Thursday that 61 suspected rebels have been killed this year so far.

India has also been on the alert since the first known drone attack in Kashmir damaged a small building and injured two personnel at an air base inside the main airport at the southern city of Jammu.

The surge in violence came after 14 pro-India leaders from Kashmir held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.

The leaders included three former chief ministers of the former Jammu and Kashmir state who were detained for months after the government cancelled Kashmir's semi-autonomous status in 2019. It is now divided into two territories ruled from Delhi.

Public disenchantment with New Delhi has steadily increased in the region, where an insurgency against Indian forces erupted in 1989. The conflict has left tens of thousands dead, mainly civilians. There are about 500,000 Indian troops in the region.

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