Two Indian soldiers killed as Kashmir tensions escalate


Suspected rebels killed an Indian army officer and a trooper during a manhunt in Kashmir, where 22 people have died in spiralling violence in the past two weeks, officials said Friday.

The soldiers were chasing rebels in a forested area in southern Kashmir when a gunbattle erupted late Thursday, Col. Devendar Anand told AFP.

The hunt in the Mendhar region had been intensified since five soldiers were killed nearby three days earlier.

Violence in the Muslim-majority territory has escalated since last week, when armed militants staged attacks that left seven civilians dead, including three from the minority Hindu and Sikh communities.

Some members of the minority communities have since left the restive Kashmir valley fearing they will be targeted, media reported, echoing scenes during another surge in violence in the 1990s when thousands of Hindus fled the region.

Eight suspected rebels have also been killed in battles and military raids in the past two weeks, police said. More than 120 have been killed this year.

The family of one of the dead suspects has denied that the youth had any links to recent attacks, saying he was detained by soldiers and killed in a staged incident in custody.—AFP

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