Conflicts & War

Highway gunfight leaves 4 rebels dead in Indian Kashmir

By Shah Abbas

Srinagar, India, Nov 19 (efe-epa).- An early morning gunfight on a busy highway in the disputed Kashmir region on Thursday left four suspected rebels dead and two Indian police officers wounded, officials said.

The shootout took place in the Nagrota area of Kashmir’s Jammu division, some 250 km (approximately 155 miles) south of Srinagar, the largest city of the troubled Himalayan region.

“Four militants were killed and two cops sustained injuries in the operation,” Inspector General of Police Mukesh Singh told EFE.

A 27-second-long video clip from a CCTV camera was widely shared on social media networks, showing a truck erupting in flames after a blast near a police check post and toll plaza in the pre-dawn light.

Several TV channels also aired the clip, claiming it was from the shootout. But the police refused to confirm or deny that the viral footage was of the Nagrota gunfight.

A police officer, wishing anonymity, told EFE that officers at a toll plaza in Nagrota intercepted a Srinagar-bound truck for routine checking.

The officer said heavily-armed militants traveling in the truck threw grenades at the security forces, following which the vehicle caught fire as some explosive hidden inside exploded.

The busy highway, which connects the idyllic Kashmir valley with the rest of India, was closed for traffic as security forces launched a combing operation in the area.

Police said they were ascertaining the identity of the slain suspected militants.

The shootout took place hours after at least 12 civilians were wounded on Wednesday night in a grenade attack aimed at a security outpost in south Kashmir.

The back-to-back violent incidents come at a time when the Kashmir administration is preparing for the first polls after the central government stripped the disputed territory of its semi-autonomous status on Aug. 5, 2019.

The Hindu nationalist government also divided the only Muslim-majority state into two federally-administered territories.

The authorities will hold the polls for district-level local in eight phases from Nov.28.

Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan, with each claiming the region in its entirety, has witnessed three decades of an armed rebellion demanding independence that has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, dead.

India rejects the rebellion as terrorism sponsored by Pakistan.

The two nuclear-powered neighbors have fought three wars and numerous minor conflicts over the Kashmir dispute over the past seven decades. EFE-EPA


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