Indian troops kill suspected rebels in Kashmir attack

July 15, 2021: In an exchange of fire in Indian-administered Kashmir, Indian forces killed three suspected rebels, sparking anti-India protests and clashes between troops and residents, officials said.

The Indian military said on Wednesday that insurgents had opened fire on soldiers and police when counter-insurgency forces surrounded a neighborhood in the southern city of Pulwama where some insurgents were hiding. Troops retaliated and trapped the insurgents in a house, according to an army statement. The eight-hour operation killed three militants and recovered two rifles and a pistol from the scene, the statement said.

Villagers said soldiers set fire to one house and blew up another with explosives, a common tactic used by Indian troops against insurgents in the disputed Himalayan region. Authorities in the town of Pulwama imposed a curfew and cut off internet access to mobile phone services, making it difficult to hold anti-India protests and discouraging the spread of protest videos.

Shortly after the attack, anti-India protesters pelted government forces with stones and chanted slogans calling for an end to Indian rule in the region. Government forces fired tear gas at protesters. No injuries were reported during the clashes.

During the clashes, government troops detained several people and forced them to sit in front of them like shields, locals said.

Wednesday’s fighting comes amid rising tensions in the region, which is divided between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, both of whom claim it in its entirety. Last week, authorities in the region also fired 11 Kashmiris from government jobs for alleged links to insurgent groups. They include two sons of a senior Kashmiri rebel commander based in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and two policemen. Kashmiris have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989.

Most people in the Muslim-majority region support the insurgent goal of uniting the region, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent state.

India says Kashmir uprising is “Pakistan-administered terrorism”. Pakistan denies the allegation, and most Kashmiris see it as a legitimate freedom struggle. Tens of thousands of civilians have died in the freedom struggle.

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