Protests erupt in held Kashmir after five fighters killed

Updated February 11, 2019

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SRINAGAR: Five fighters were killed in a gunfight with government forces in India-held Kashmir on Sunday, the Indian army said, triggering anti-India clashes in which at least 10 civilians were injured.

The fighting began after Indian forces cordoned off a village in the Himalayan region’s southern Kulgam area following a tip that fighters were hiding there, said Col Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for the Indian military.

The searches led to an exchange of gunfire in which the five fighters were killed, he said.

The fighting sparked protests and clashes as hundreds of residents tried to march to the site of the battle in solidarity with the fighters.

The protesters were chanting slogans and demanding end of an Indian rule over the disputed region.

Troops fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the protesters, who threw stones and snowballs at them. At least 10 civilians were injured and were taken to hospitals, medics and local residents said.

Kashmiri fighters have been fighting Indian control since 1989 and civilian street protests are common.

Most Kashmiris support the fighters’ stance that their territory should be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2019