Indian troops and police raided homes they said “militants” were hiding in, killing 10 people, including pro-independence fighters and civilians, and setting off a gun battle and protests.
Indian troops killed three pro-independence fighters during a gun battle Saturday in the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, while police blamed “insurgents” for killing three other men during a day of violence and protests in the disputed region.
Indian police and paramilitary soldiers staged a morning raid on a cluster of homes in a densely populated neighborhood of Srinagar after getting a tip that the fighters were hiding there, police said.
Following the raid, anti-India protests and clashes erupted in several places. Hundreds of demonstrators tried to reach the site of the standoff and threw rocks at troops in a bid to help the trapped fighters.
Government forces opened fire to break up the protests and killed five during the clashes. Hundreds of people were reported injured in the protests.
A specific appeal was made to Mohammad Rafi Bhat, a university sociology teacher who only went underground with the “rebels” on Friday.
“We brought his father from his home to persuade him to surrender, but he, like all of them, refused,” director general of police Shesh Paul Vaid said, confirming five people died in the firefight.
A doctor at a hospital in Shopian said hundreds of injured needed treatment.
“We have reached our full capacity. We have run out of essential medicines, there are no more ambulances,” he told AFP.
Since last year, gun battles between government forces and pro-independence fighters seeking an end to Indian rule in the disputed valley have become more frequent.
The fighting has so far this year left a total of 110 dead, including 20 civilians and 28 security forces personnel.
New Delhi has deployed some 500,000 soldiers to the disputed region to further boost the security of the borderline and enforce a crackdown on pro-independence demonstrations in its share of Kashmir, where anti-India sentiments are high.
New Delhi is also preparing to deploy elite commandos from its National Security Guard, known as Black Cats, to the disputed territory.
Kashmir lies at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute since India and Pakistan became independent in 1947. Cross-border frictions have recently flared up between troops from the two neighbors along the disputed de facto border in Kashmir. The two sides have accused each other of provocation.
New Delhi and Islamabad both claim the region in full, but rule parts of it. Pakistan administers one-third of Kashmir, with the remaining two-thirds under India’s control.
Thousands of people have been killed in the unrest in Kashmir over the past two decades.