2 Indian soldiers, 2 rebels killed in fighting in Kashmir

AP News
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Posted: Jul 30, 2016 5:41 AM

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — India's army said Saturday that two rebels and two soldiers were killed in an overnight gunbattle close to the cease-fire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, as a curfew continued to be enforced in parts of Indian-held Kashmir.

The shooting erupted Friday night in Nowgam sector after Indian soldiers spotted the insurgents, who they believed infiltrated from the Pakistani side of Kashmir, said Col. Nitin N. Joshi, an army spokesman.

In addition to the four fatalities, an Indian soldier was wounded in the fighting, said Joshi, adding that Indian forces recovered two assault rifles and some ammunition from the rebels.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies. Pakistan says it provides only political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris.

Meanwhile, a curfew was still in effect Saturday in parts of Indian-held Kashmir, with shops closed across the region in response to a separatist call for a shutdown until Sunday amid outrage over the killing of a top rebel leader by Indian troops earlier this month.

Curfew-bound areas included the downtown portion of Srinagar, the region's main city, and the southern towns of Anantnag and Pampore.

In non-curfew areas, authorities banned the assembly of more than four people to prevent protests.

Doctors and police said more than 100 protesters were injured in clashes with government forces at 70 places across the region on Friday. Angry demonstrators threw stones at the forces, injuring at least 30, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

Troubled areas of southern Kashmir have mostly remained under curfew since July 9, the day after the rebel leader, Burhan Wani, was killed by government forces. At least 49 civilians have been killed in clashes between protesters and government forces since then. A policeman also died after protesters pushed his vehicle into a river.

About 2,000 civilians and 1,500 police and soldiers have been injured in the clashes.

Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region, is divided between India and Pakistan, but both claim it in its entirety. The rivals have fought two wars over control of Kashmir since independence from Britain in 1947.