Indian government forces killed three suspected militants in a gun battle in the India-held Kashmir while 35 civilians were injured in anti-India protests and clashes in solidarity with the ‘militants’, said police and witnesses on Tuesday.
The day-long fighting erupted on Monday after Indian soldiers and counterinsurgency police raided southern Bahmnoo village on a tip that rebels were hiding there, said police Inspector-General Muneer Ahmed Khan.
Witnesses said troops blasted and destroyed three civilian homes during the fighting. Khan said soldiers were searching for the body of a fourth ‘militant’ in the debris. At least six policemen and soldiers were injured in the fighting.
The gunfight triggered intense clashes after hundreds of civilians marched near the site to help the trapped ‘militants’ escape. Indian government forces fired bullets, shotgun pellets and tear gas to stop the march by rock-throwing protesters who were chanting slogans like “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom.” At least 35 civilians were injured and five among them were reported to have sustained bullet wounds.
In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India separatists and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants.
The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.—AP