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Toll from clashes in Indian-controlled Kashmir reaches 4

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Indian army soldiers run to take their positions near the site of a gun battle between Indian security forces and militants on the outskirts of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, on February 21, 2016. ©Reuters

An exchange of fire between New Delhi’s forces and militants has entered its second day in Indian-controlled Kashmir, with the death toll reaching four.

On Saturday, a handful of militants, believed to be anti-India rebels, ambushed a convoy of Indian paramilitary forces on the outskirts of Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, killing two soldiers and wounding 13 others.

The militants later took refuge at a nearby government-run training institute and allowed over 120 people inside to leave the building without any harm.

On Sunday, renewed confrontation broke out after the Central Reserve Police Force and paramilitary soldiers surrounded the premise, where the rebels had been hiding.

Paramilitary spokesman, Bhavesh Chaudhary, said the militants fired guns and grenades early Sunday as Indian soldiers tried to storm the government building.

People run for safety after they were evacuated from a government building on the outskirts of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, on February 20, 2016. ©AP

Indian army spokesman, N. N. Joshi, said an army captain was killed in Sunday’s firing. A civilian gardener also succumbed to the injuries he sustained during the initial crossfire, according to police.

Kashmir lies at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute since India and Pakistan became independent in 1947.

New Delhi and Islamabad both claim the Himalayan region in full, but rule parts of it. The two countries have fought two wars over the disputed region.

India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire in Kashmir on November 26, 2003, and launched a peace process the following year. Since then, there have been sporadic clashes, with the two sides trading accusations of violating the ceasefire along their de facto border dividing the disputed region.

Overall violence in Kashmir has declined during the last decade, but clashes between government forces and militants erupt regularly.

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