Kashmir hit by deadly violence on Indian Independence Day

Kashmir hit by deadly violence on Indian Independence Day
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SRINAGAR, India (APP) - A police paramilitary commander was shot dead in Kashmir's main city while at least two suspected freedom fighters were killed in gun-battles Monday as violence flared in the disputed Himalayan region on Indian Independence Day .

The unnamed commander was critically injured in an ambush and died in hospital, a senior officer of India's Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) confirmed, adding that two other members of the force were in a critical condition.

"We have lost a commanding officer. The combing operation is on," said Atul Karwal, the force's inspector general.

Another officer told AFP that two of the attackers are believed to have died in the gunfight in the Nowhatta locality of Srinagar although there would be no confirmation until their bodies were recovered.

Authorities have imposed a curfew in large parts of Kashmir, India's only Muslim majority state, since July 9 during an upsurge in violence sparked by the killing of a commander Burhan Wani.

CRPF spokesman Bhuvesh Chaudhary said the slain commander was one of nine paramilitaries who were ambushed in two attacks in Nowhatta and there had been another shooting a few kilometres away in the northern part of the city.

Indian-occupied Kashmir has been under a curfew since protests broke out over the death last month of the popular young rebel leader Burhan Wani in a gunfight with security forces.

More than 50 civilians have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces, and thousands more injured in the region's worst violence since 2010.

In a separate gunfight on Monday, two fighters were killed near the Line of Control (LoC) -- the de facto border between India and Pakistan -- in the northern Uri sector, an Indian army spokesman said.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in August 1947 but both claim the territory in full.

It is the epicenter of a separatist insurgency, with several rebel groups fighting Indian troops and police as they seek either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

They traditionally order citizens to observe a shutdown on Independence Day to protest India rule.

The state's first woman chief minister Mehbooba Mufti called on India and Pakistan to make the LoC irrelevant to bring peace in the region.

"I appeal to both countries that this line dividing Kashmir should be made irrelevant," Mufti told at a thinly attended gathering, after hoisting the Indian flag at a sports stadium in Srinagar.

She blamed the Indian leadership for the current crises in Kashmir.

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