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Iran Press TV

Indian troops kill 4 more pro-independence fighters in Kashmir

Iran Press TV

Monday, 08 June 2020 4:20 PM

Four more pro-independence fighters have been killed in an encounter with government troops in Indian-controlled Kashmir, just hours after a deadly shootout in the same area of the restive disputed Himalayan valley.

In the latest incident on Monday, Indian soldiers laid siege around a village in the southern area of Shopian on a tip that fighters were hiding there.

Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said a firefight broke out and four suspected militants were killed in the confrontation.

Another army officer said three soldiers were also wounded in the clashes.

The killing sparked protests as hundreds of residents tried to march on the site of the battle in solidarity with the slain fighters.

Indian government forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas to disperse the stone-throwing crowd.

On Sunday, five fighters were killed after Indian counterinsurgency police and soldiers cordoned off Shopian's Reban village.

Such armed encounters are frequent in the Himalayan region, which is disputed by India and Pakistan.

At least 85 pro-independence fighters and about two dozen soldiers have died this year during outbreaks of violence in the part of Kashmir controlled by New Delhi, and along the de facto border dividing the disputed Himalayan region between India and Pakistan.

The latest incidents came a week after New Delhi expelled two Pakistan Embassy officials over allegations of spying.

Tensions remain high in Kashmir against the backdrop of New Delhi's revocation of the region's semi-autonomous status last year.

In August 2019, the administration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked the semi-autonomous status of its Jammu and Kashmir state, and imposed a months-long curfew that cut off communications and restricted movement.

Despite India's efforts to restore normalcy in Kashmir, the region remains tense as people are reluctant to accept India's move to put the region under its direct control.

Senior officials in New Delhi accuse neighboring Pakistan for orchestrating attacks against Indian troops in the disputed region, a charge Pakistan denies.

Kashmir has been disputed between India and Pakistan since the partition that accompanied Britain's withdrawal from India in 1947.

The two countries have fought three wars over the Himalayan region, currently divided between them by the Line of Control (LoC). Both countries claim the territory in full but control only parts of it.

India has deployed hundreds of thousands of troops to maintain security in the Muslim-majority region, where people oppose the Indian rule.

Pro-independence fighters, backed by the locals, have fought in Indian-controlled Kashmir since 1989, demanding independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the clashes.

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