News   /   India

Gunfights, clashes claim 14 lives in Kashmir

Indian Kashmiri men gesture as another lies on the ground after a blast near a house where three suspected independence fighters were killed during a gunfight with Indian government forces in the town of Kulgam, south of Srinagar, October 21, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

At least fourteen people, including six civilians, have been killed in a series of gunfights and clashes in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India’s military said on Sunday that fighting erupted after troops cordoned off a village in the southern area of Kulgam on a tip-off that independence fighters were hiding there. The exchange of fire lasted for several hours, and three fighters were killed and two soldiers injured.

Swayam Prakash Pani, a top police officer, said demonstrators assembled at the site despite repeated requests to stay away.

"Protesters ignored warnings and soon overwhelmed the site, where five died after being hit when leftover explosives went off," Pani said. A sixth civilian injured in the explosion later died in a hospital in Srinagar, the main city in Kashmir.

Witnesses at the scene said at least 30 other civilians were wounded in clashes with police.

Mobile telephone services were suspended across the Muslim-majority region.

Elsewhere, fighting near the de facto border dividing the contested Himalayan valley between India and Pakistan also left three soldiers and two unknown fighters dead. Indian Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand said the troops died in "a fierce encounter with heavily armed Pakistani intruders."

The incidents could spark more unrest in a region that has witnessed renewed attacks and public resistance against the Indian rule in recent years.

People look on as smoke billows from a house after a gunfight with Indian forces in the town of Kulgam, south of Srinagar, October 21, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

New Delhi has deployed some 500,000 soldiers to the disputed region to further boost security of the borderline and enforce a crackdown on pro-independence demonstrations in its share of Kashmir, where anti-India sentiments are high.

Since last year, gunfights between government forces and pro-independence fighters seeking an end to the Indian rule in the disputed valley have become more frequent.

A civilian was among four people killed last week in a shootout in the heart of Srinagar.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan but is claimed in full by both countries since they partitioned and gained independence from Britain in 1947.

Indian government forces stand guard as protesters throw stones during clashes in downtown Srinagar, Kashmir, on October 19, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The two countries have fought three wars over the disputed territory. Despite a ceasefire agreement that was reached in November 2003, sporadic skirmishes continue in Kashmir.

New Delhi accuses Islamabad of supporting pro-independence fighters, an allegation rejected by the Pakistani government. Islamabad, in turn, is critical of India’s heavy military deployment to Kashmir and its crackdown against the region’s Muslim population.

Armed battles between Indian forces and militants over the years have killed nearly 70,000 people, mostly civilians.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku