SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Four police officials, four paramilitary soldiers and two suspected militants were killed Saturday after anti-India rebels in Kashmir stormed a heavily guarded police camp in the disputed Himalayan region, triggering daylong fighting, police said.
Heavily armed gunmen entered the camp in southern Pulwama town early Saturday firing guns and grenades at the sentry, said Director-General of police S.P. Vaid. In the initial attack, a policeman was killed and four other personnel, including a paramilitary soldier, were wounded.
Vaid said police and paramilitary soldiers responded to the attack while a reinforcement of army soldiers and counterinsurgency police encircled the camp. In the ensuing firefight inside the camp, three policemen and four paramilitary soldiers were killed, Vaid said.
He said that government forces evacuated dozens of police families.
Another police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy, said troops recovered the bodies of two suspected militants. He said troops were searching a building in the sprawling camp for another militant.
One building also was torched in the fighting.
No rebel group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
As the fighting raged, hundreds of residents, mostly young men, hit the streets in Pulwama in solidarity with rebels while demanding the end of Indian rule over Kashmir and chanting pro-militant slogans.
Government forces fired tear gas, resulting in clashes with protesters, who hurled back rocks at the troops. No one was immediately reported injured in the clashes.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the territory in its entirety. Rebel groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir's mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.