SRINAGAR: Nine Kashmiri men and three soldiers were killed in two incidents in India-held Kashmir, officials said on Sunday, as authorities enforced a lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The disputed territory had already been under a long-running curfew imposed to quell the peaceful struggle of Kashmiris as New Delhi scrapped the Himalayan valley’s semi-autonomous status on Aug 5, 2019.
Indian army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia alleged that five armed men were killed early on Sunday morning in the northern Keran area close to the Line of Control.
The clashes also left three soldiers dead and critically injured several more, he said in a statement.
Col Kalia did not specify the number of injured, saying only that some others who were injured were undergoing treatment.
There was no independent confirmation of the incident.
The fighting came within 24 hours of another gunbattle between Kashmiris and Indian occupation forces in the southern Kulgam area that left four dead.
Col Kalia said that as troops began conducting searches, they came under heavy gunfire, leading to a clash that killed four men.
Police said that all four deceased carried arms and that they were from the local area.
Several Kashmiri organisations have been carrying out struggle since 1989 for the region’s independence or merger with Pakistan. India has accused Pakistan of arming Kashmiris, which Pakistan denies.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2020