Aug 052017
 

Three Kashmiri militants were killed in a gun battle with Indian troops on Saturday, triggering a new round of anti-India protests and clashes.

The fighting began after government forces raided a cluster of homes on a tip that suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants were hiding in India-held Kashmir's northwestern Sopore area, said police Inspector-General Muneer Ahmed Khan. He said that as the soldiers began searching homes, they came under gunfire from militants.

In the ensuing battle, three militants were killed and a police official injured, he said.

“During the encounter three militants of LeT were eliminated,” a police statement said, adding that three automatic assault rifles were recovered from the site of the clash.

As the news of the killings spread, protests and clashes erupted in several parts of the region as residents chanted slogans against Indian rule and in favour of the separatists who have fought against New Delhi's rule since 1989.

Soldiers fired at rock-throwing protesters in Bandipora area and wounded at least three civilians.

In an escalating confrontation in the last seven days, at least 10 militants and four civilians have died in five gun battles and subsequent anti-India clashes. Two Indian army soldiers also have been killed in an ambush.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in India-held Kashmir's mostly Muslim population and most people support the separatists' cause against Indian rule.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India elements 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 counter-insurgency operations.

Separatist groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.

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