Three killed in Indian Kashmir stand-off with militants

 26 Aug 2017 - 12:05

Three killed in Indian Kashmir stand-off with militants

AFP

Srinagar, India: Government forces in Indian-administered Kashmir were battling suspected rebels Saturday after they stormed a police facility in a pre-dawn attack and killed one officer and two paramilitary troops, police said. 

The militants detonated grenades and fired automatic assault rifles to gain entry to the district police headquarters in southern Pulwama district which also houses families of some officers, director general of police S.P. Vaid said.

One police officer was killed in the initial assault and three paramilitary troops were injured who were evacuated to a nearby hospital, he said. 

"Two more CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) soldiers died" in pursuit of the attackers, Vaid told AFP.

"We are evacuating the families and everyone from there," he said.

It was not clear how many attackers were inside the compound where hundreds of police and paramilitary troops are usually present. 

"Exchange of fire is still on inside," inspector general of police Muneer Ahmed Khan told AFP.

Authorities cut off mobile internet services in the district to prevent residents from organising anti-India demonstrations as a tactic to help the militants escape.

Sporadic protests have already broken out close to the police facility, an officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

In recent months, residents, sometimes entire villages, have increasingly hit the streets and thrown stones at soldiers when rebels are trapped in military cordons to help them escape.

Dozens of civilians have died during such clashes since last year.

Government forces have stepped up counterinsurgency operations since the start of the year and have killed at least 136 rebels, including most of the top commanders of rebel groups operating in the disputed territory.

Kashmir has been divided between Indian and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the territory in full.

Rebel groups have for decades fought the more than 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the restive territory, demanding independence or a merger of the former Himalayan kingdom with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.