Four Indian security forces and two rebels were killed in separate gun battles in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Three Indian security personnel were killed in an ongoing gunfight with rebels in Anantnag district of Indian-administered Kashmir, while another soldier and two rebels were killed in a separate gunfight in the border district on Wednesday by Rajouri.
A joint group of police and army launched an operation on Tuesday after receiving information about the presence of suspected rebels in the forests of Kokernag area of Anantnag.
An official on condition of anonymity, who was not authorized to speak to the media, told Al Jazeera that the three officials – Colonel Manpreet Singh, Major Ashish Donchak and Deputy Superintendent of Police Himayun Muzammil – had been targeted by suspected rebels on Wednesday. as they crossed a stream during the search operation.
“There was a delay in the evacuation due to heavy gunfire,” the official added.
The region’s police chief, Dilbagh Singh, said in a statement, while regretting the deaths of the police officers, that “the perpetrators of the criminal act would soon be brought to justice.”
Police officials said the bodies were found amid heavy gunfire.
Army helicopters were pressed into service for evacuation during the fighting. There is no official information on the number of suspected rebels present in the shooting.
“Where is normal?
“Everyone says the situation is getting back to normal. Where is normal? » asked Ahmad, a 32-year-old friend of policeman Muzammil.
“My friend left behind his young wife and his one-month-old son. How many more people are going to die here,” said Ahmad, who did not want to use his first name.
The shootings – the second in 24 hours – come as India’s Hindu nationalist government, which rules the Muslim-majority region from New Delhi, says its policies have brought normality to Kashmir, which has seen decades of armed rebellion.
New Delhi removed the disputed region’s limited autonomy in 2019, saying the move would integrate Kashmir with the rest of India and eliminate terrorism.
But intermittent exchanges of fire in the region continue to take place and cause casualties. Last month, three Indian soldiers were killed in a shootout with rebels in the forests of south Kashmir.
“Terrible and terrible news from J&K (Jammu and Kashmir)…. May their souls rest in peace and may their loved ones find strength in these difficult times,” pro-India former chief minister Omar Abdullah posted on Xformerly Twitter.
The Union Minister of India, General Vijay Kumar Singh, also addressed
Earlier in the day, an Indian Army soldier and two suspected rebels were killed in a gunfight in the southern border district of Narla village of Rajouri.
“A large quantity of war stores were recovered, including medicines marked Pak (Pakistan),” the Indian Army said in a statement about the Rajouri shooting, adding that three soldiers and a special police officer were also injured in the shooting.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, both of which claim the region in its entirety and have fought two of their three full-scale wars there.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since early 1989, when India deployed the military to quell an armed rebellion that sought to liberate Kashmir or merge with neighboring Pakistan.
India has accused Pakistan of supporting the rebels – a charge Islamabad denies.