Indian forces kill five pro-independence fighters in Kashmir shootout
Iran Press TV
Sunday, 07 June 2020 5:53 PM
Indian forces have killed at least five pro-independence fighters in gunfire in Indian-controlled Kashmir, sparking protests by local residents in the restive disputed valley
The latest bout of violence started after the Indian forces cordoned off Reban village in the southern Kashmir valley early Sunday on suspicions that several fighters were hiding in a home.
Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said searches by the Indian troops triggered an exchange of gun battle that killed at least five fighters.
Media reports quoted local sources said that the killing sparked protests as hundreds of residents tried to march to the site of the battle in solidarity with the slain fighters.
The Indian government forces fired tear gas and metal pellets at the demonstrators as they threw stones and shouted "go India, go back".
At least 50 pro-independence fighters and about two dozen soldiers have died since April 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.
In August 2019, 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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