Indian-Held Kashmir Erupts in Deadly Violence, Killing 7



Indian troops killed three suspected rebels during a gunbattle Saturday in the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, while police blamed insurgents for killing three other men during a day of violence and protests in the disputed region.

Counterinsurgency police and paramilitary soldiers staged a morning raid on a cluster of homes in a densely populated neighborhood of Srinagar after getting a tip that militants were hiding there, police said. Troops asked the trapped militants to surrender but they instead started shooting and sparked a gunbattle, police said.

As the militants and government troops exchanged gunfire, anti-India protests and clashes erupted in several places. Hundreds of demonstrators tried to reach the site of the standoff and threw rocks at troops in a bid to help the rebels escape.

Police and paramilitary soldiers fired shotgun pellets and tear gas to stop the protesters, and at least one protester was run over and killed by a police armored vehicle. As the anti-India protests and clashes spiraled, shops in the city shuttered and authorities switched off mobile internet services to make organizing protests more difficult.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding Indian-controlled Kashmir be made part of Pakistan or become an independent country.

Most Kashmiris support the rebels' cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control. In recent years, mainly young Kashmiris have displayed open solidarity with rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations. Last year, at least 29 civilians were killed and hundreds were wounded during such clashes.