59 Indian Army soldiers have been killed in Occupied Kashmir

59 Indian Army soldiers have been killed in Occupied Kashmir

SRINAGAR - Two Indian air force commandos and two suspected militants have been killed in a gun battle in the restive Indian-administered Kashmir region.

The exchange of fire erupted on Wednesday when government troops searching for elements opposing India’s rule over the predominantly-Muslim region cordoned off a neighborhood in the northern town of Hajin.

“It was a difficult operation. Two militants were killed in the encounter. Unfortunately, two air force commandos also died,” said an Indian police officer.

The development came days after the death of a leader of a militant group banned by India during a shootout with government forces in Kashmir . The individual killed was a Pakistani national known only as Khalid and was considered by India as a suspect in organizing a wave of bombings across the Indian side of Kashmir , which is also claimed by neighboring Pakistan.

Smoke and dust rise from an Indian Border Security Force (BSF) building, which was held by suspected militants, after it was hit by explosives fired by Indian forces in Srinagar, on October 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Last week, at least three militants and one Indian soldier were killed in clashes that erupted after an attack on an Indian paramilitary training camp in Kashmir .

New Delhi accuses Pakistan of dispatching militants into Kashmir to wage attacks on its forces. Islamabad denies that allegation.

Armed groups have been clashing with Indian troops deployed in the region for years, demanding that the largely-Muslim Kashmir be given independence or be merged with Pakistan.

The battles over the years have killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians.

India earlier this year launched “Operation Allout” in an effort to hunt down anti-government militants.

Indian police authorities say at least 160 militants and 59 military or police forces have been killed so far this year.

The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 but both countries claim it in its entirety. The two nuclear rivals have fought three wars over the control of the territory since their partition.