SRINAGAR, India â€” A protester was killed and dozens of others wounded Sunday as government forces fired at demonstrators demanding an end to Indian rule in Kashmir following a gunbattle that killed four suspected rebels, two soldiers and a civilian, officials said.
The gunbattle began after police and soldiers cordoned off the southern village of Frisal overnight following a tip that militants were hiding in a house, said police Inspector-General Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani.
He said the militants sprayed automatic gunfire to break the cordon, leading to an exchange of gunfire with police and soldiers that killed four militants and two soldiers.
Police also recovered the body of a civilian, reportedly the young son of the house owner.
According to local residents, government forces blasted the house with explosives.
The Indian army said three soldiers were injured.
As the fighting raged, clashes erupted in several places between government forces and neighbouring villagers who tried to march to Frisal in solidarity with the militants. Troops fired bullets, shotgun pellets and tear gas canisters to stop the rock-throwing protesters.
One protester was killed and at least 29 others injured in the clashes, police and hospital officials said.
Militants fighting against Indian rule have wide support among Kashmir’s Muslims, who often protest in the streets during security operations to help militants escape.
Kashmir is divided between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan. Both counties claim the disputed territory in its entirety.
Rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising and Indian military crackdown.
The Associated Press