2 Kashmiri militants, Indian soldier killed in clash

Indian forces worried by attack in the heart of Kashmiri regional capital's old city despite heavy security.


Zahid Rafiq - SRINAGAR, Indian held Kashmir (AA) – Two Kashmiri militants and an Indian soldier were killed on Monday in a gun battle in downtown Srinagar, the capital of Indian-held Kashmir. 

The militant attack in the heart of Srinagar's old city also left seven Indian troops injured and has worried security forces as it came while India's 70th Independence Day was being celebrated by supporters of the Indian-backed Jammu and Kashmir state government. 

There has not been an attack on independence day for more than two decades but the last month has seen heightened tensions between pro-independence protesters and Indian forces that have seen 58 civilians shot dead. 

"This morning militants fired upon police and CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force] deployment at Nowhatta Chowk near Jamia Masjid, in the jurisdiction of Police Station Nowhatta Srinagar," police spokesperson Manoj Pandita said.

Pandita said the militants, after shooting at the armed forces, went inside a building which the armed forces immediately cordoned off. 

"An encounter ensued in which two militants were killed. Their identity is still being ascertained," he said. 

A senior police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Anadolu Agency the "government and the security structure in place were quite worried by the attack because the attack happened in the middle of the city despite a complete curfew and despite such heavy presence of armed forces."

"For a long time, there has been no attack of this kind in Srinagar and that too in the old city and this is just a bad sign. It has set off alarm bells everywhere," the officer said.

Kashmir is observing 37th day of an anti-India shutdown and the whole region has been under weeks of government-imposed curfew. The present tension began after people came out to mourn 21-year old militant commander Burhan Wani, who was killed by Indian forces on July 8.

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.

The two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.

Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. 

More than 70,000 Kashmiris have been killed so far in the violence, most of them by Indian forces. India maintains over half a million soldiers in the region.




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