New Delhi, Dec 31 (EFE).- Indian security forces said Friday that they killed three militants in a pre-dawn gunfight in the outskirts of the capital of the disputed Kashmir region.
The latest killings took the toll of slain rebels to nine in separate shootouts in less than 36 hours across the Himalayan region.
Kashmir police tweeted that three “terrorists” were killed in the overnight gunfight in the Panthachowk area of Srinagar, the capital of the restive region.
Police identified one of the slain militants as Suhail Ahmad Rather of a Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Rather was allegedly involved in the Dec.13 attack that left three cops dead and 12 others injured when militants opened fire on a police bus in a high-security area of Srinagar.
The killings came a day after police claimed to have shot down six Jaish militants, including two Pakistani nationals, in two separate shootouts in two villages south of the Kashmir Valley.
Security forces have killed some 194 militants in Kashmir shootouts this year, provisional data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal showed.
At least 36 civilians and 44 security force personnel have lost their lives in the heightened violence in the troubled valley in 2021.
The Jaish militant group was at the heart of military tension between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors in 2019.
The Himalayan Kashmir region has been at the center of a bloody territorial dispute between India and Pakistan since the two South Asian rivals won their independence in 1947.
The region has been battling an armed rebellion since the late 1980s.
India blames Pakistan for sponsoring a proxy war in a part of the Kashmir region it controls, an allegation Islamabad denies.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the region as both claim the idyllic territory in its entirety.
The JeM is one of the dozens of militant groups fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir.
The group has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Kashmir, including the Feb.14, 2019, bombing of a paramilitary convoy in which more than 42 policemen were killed.
The attack triggered one of the most dangerous military tensions between Indian and Pakistan as their air forces engaged in an aerial dogfight in which an Indian fighter jet was shot down, and its pilot captured and then released.
India-Pakistan diplomatic tensions hit a new low in August of that year when the Indian government revoked the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir and imposed months-long unprecedented military lockdown and communication blackouts.
Since then, the authorities have banned protest demonstrations and curbed rights in the volatile region.
A representative called Lieutenant Governor appointed directly by the central government governs the region that has been without an elected government since June 2018. EFE