SRINAGAR: Two freedom fighters were martyred in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) on Sunday following an intense gun battle with government forces at a school, police said.
The fighters had ambushed a paramilitary police patrol on Saturday evening, killing one trooper and injuring two others in a hail of bullets, before fleeing into the nearby school on the outskirts of the region’s main city of Srinagar. Police and soldiers had surrounded the school as the freedom fighters continued firing on them, according to Muneer Ahmed Khan, inspector general of police in Kashmir. “The gun battle is over. Two militants have been killed,” director general of police SP Vaid said. He said neither of the dead men were locals and police only knew their code names.
A week earlier, six officers were ambushed and killed by suspected rebels.
More civilians and militants were among the dead this Ramadan than last, Parvez said. The conflict has increasingly drawn in civilians, many of whom oppose Indian rule. Whole communities sometimes come out to throw stones at government forces as they fight militants.
On Saturday, as troops battled the rebels in the latest clash, civilians rushed the scene chanting anti-Indian slogans and hurling rocks at the soldiers. Authorities had barred people from coming within five kilometres of Saturday’s shooting, and blocked the highway connecting Srinagar with the restive Kashmir Valley to the south. Clashes between government forces and civilians have worsened in the disputed region since the death of a hugely popular rebel commander last July.
The anniversary of Burhan Wani’s death next month is expected to bring more violence.
India last week deployed two additional army battalions — about 2,000 troops — to troubled regions in the southern Kashmir area, the Press Trust of India reported.