Rebels, Indian forces fight in disputed Kashmir; 2 killed
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Rebels attacked an Indian army camp and an armored vehicle, leading to fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir, police said Monday. A soldier and a civilian were killed and three soldiers were wounded.
The deaths occurred overnight during fighting that followed a rebel attack on an army camp in southern Kakpora village, said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Police said the civilian, a taxi driver, was caught in the crossfire and was hit by a bullet in the head. He died instantly.
On Monday, thousands participated in the man’s funeral while chanting pro-rebel slogans and demanding an end to Indian rule over Kashmir.
Clashes also erupted as some youths threw stones at government forces, who fired tear gas to quell the anti-India protests. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Separately, militants targeted an Indian army armored vehicle with a remote-controlled bomb in the volatile Shopian area on Monday, the police official said. Soldiers in the vehicle were patrolling the area.
Three soldiers, including an army officer, were wounded in the blast, which extensively damaged the vehicle.
Local residents said shortly after the blast, soldiers descended on neighboring villages in the area and ransacked dozens of homes and damaged apple orchards.
Ghulam Hassan Shah, a local rebel commander’s father, told reporters that all of his household appliances and other possessions were damaged by the soldiers.
“They want to break us by breaking our homes. It’s a punishment but it’s not going to work,” said a local woman, Khatija, who uses only one name. “This will further provoke young and all against India.”
Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman, said the army was “ascertaining the facts with respect to these allegations.” Senior police officer S.P. Vaid also said police will look into the complaints.
Government forces in Kashmir have often been accused of systemically raiding neighborhoods, ransacking houses and beating residents as part of their counterinsurgency tactics. Authorities say troops only respond to restore law and order.
The attacks come despite a cease-fire declared by India during the current Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Rebels have rejected the government cease-fire, calling it a “drama.”
India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
In recent years, there have been renewed rebel attacks and public protests against Indian rule as a new generation of Kashmiri rebels, especially in the southern parts of the region, revive the militancy and challenge New Delhi’s rule with guns and use of social media.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.
Most Kashmiris support the rebel cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.