Srinagar, India, Dec, 28 (EFE).- Indian police on Wednesday said they killed four suspected militants hiding in a pickup truck during a gunfight on a highway to the Kashmir Valley.
The alleged gunfight broke out near Jammu, the winter capital of the disputed region in the early hours of Wednesday.
Jammu region police chief Mukesh Singh told reporters that a police patrol spotted a suspicious movement of a lorry on the highway.
When the driver of the truck was signalled to halt, he sped away before the vehicle was forced to stop over a bridge on the Tawi River along the Jammu-Srinagar highway, some 250 km from the main city of Srinagar.
The driver of the truck gave the cops a slip.
Police were searching the truck when militants hiding inside opened fire fire on cops, Singh said.
The truck caught fire during the exchange of fire.
Singh said at least four bodies were recovered from the debris of the charred truck.
“(The) heavily armed terrorists were on their way to the Kashmir Valley were killed in the encounter,” the police chief said.
A police officer in the area told EFE that a manhunt has been launched to nab the absconding driver.
Witnesses told EFE that smoke billowed out from the burning truck, loaded with husk.
The vehicle was completely damaged in less than an hour of the gunfight, the witnesses said.
Contrary to the Kashmir Valley, where such gunfights are not rare, the Jammu region is supposed to be a militancy free area of the disputed territory.
The region, disputed between India and Pakistan, has been battling more than three decades of armed rebellion against Indian rule for full independence or Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan.
India says Pakistan is sponsoring the militancy in Kashmir. Pakistan has always denied the allegations.
The armed rebellion and counter-insurgency have claimed at least 75,000 lives, mostly civilians, according to rights watchdogs. EFE