'17 soldiers killed' in Indian-held Kashmir gunbattle

Latest incidence of violence in disputed valley comes at a time when UN conducts session on human rights in Geneva.


Zahid Rafiq - SRINAGAR, Indian-held Kashmir (AA) – At least 17 Indian soldiers and four suspected militants were killed in a gunbattle at an army base in northern Uri town in Indian-held Kashmir.

“Four terrorists killed in counter-terrorist operation at Uri. 17 soldiers make the supreme sacrifice,” Indian army’s Northern Command tweeted on Sunday morning.

According to an army source, who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, the suspected militants had attacked a base camp of an infantry battalion in Uri at 5.30 a.m. local time (0000 GMT).

“They [militants] went in early morning and used grenades, and a lot of firing to sneak in and the gunbattle went on for over four hours,” the source said, adding that the clash had ended.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh cancelled his visit to Russia and the U.S. following the incident, according to local media reports.

The killing of Indian soldiers comes at a time when the United Nations conducts a session on human rights in Geneva. India is under a lot of pressure for its alleged human rights violations and is accused of using repressive measures to quell pro-independence protests in the disputed Indian-held Kashmir.

Indian forces have killed at least 86 civilian protesters since July 8 when pro-independence demonstrations began in the valley. According to figures from the health department, around 9,000 civilians were also wounded in such incidents, hundreds of whom were maimed, blinded and incapacitated for life.

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 IHK have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

 More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, most of them by the Indian Armed forces. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed regions.



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