Kashmiri leaders on Tuesday blamed the Indian authorities for killing a prominent leader in India-occupied Kashmir, as anti-India protests and clashes followed a gun battle that killed four armed fighters and an army commando in the disputed region.
Fighting began early Tuesday after police and soldiers cordoned off a village on a tip that Kashmiri fighters were hiding in a house, said Indian army spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia. He said the Kashmiri fighters ignored calls of surrender and fired at the soldiers and in the exchange the four were killed.
Police said one soldier from India's special forces unit was killed and two soldiers injured in the fighting. Local residents said soldiers blasted the house with explosives.
As news of the Kashmiri fighters' killing spread, hundreds of villagers seeking an end to Indian rule hit the streets to show solidarity with the fighters, sparking clashes with government forces.
At least four women were injured when troops fired bullets, shotgun pellets and tear gas to confront stone-throwing protesters.
Gunmen sprayed gunfire toward Hafizullah Mir, a top political leader of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat, a group that challenges India's sovereignty over Kashmir, at his home in the southern Achabal area. Mir died on the spot while his wife was wounded in the attack, police and residents said.
Kashmiri leaders have termed it an assassination and blamed the Indian authorities for carrying out the atrocious attack on the local leader.
Mir was released from jail last month following two years’ imprisonment in India. Tehreek-i-Hurriyat had said recently that Mir was receiving life threats over the telephone.