Indian forces have killed eight militants in restive Kashmir, including two who hid in a mosque, officials said Friday, as New Delhi escalates counter-insurgency efforts in the disputed territory.
The new fatalities following gun battles on Thursday and Friday take the death toll of alleged militants over 100 this year, officials said.
Indian-administered Kashmir has been in turmoil since last August when New Delhi revoked its semi-autonomous status and imposed a communications blackout that has not been fully lifted.
One gun battle at Neej, near the Muslim-majority region’s main city of Srinagar, led to the death of one militant and a night-long standoff with two others who hid inside a mosque, officials said.
Security forces used ‘tear smoke shells’ on the mosque and later ‘neutralised’ the two inside, Kashmir’s inspector general of police Vijay Kumar said in a Twitter statement.
Security forces also killed five militants who hid in an underground shelter in an apple orchard in Shopian district, security officials said.
The shootouts have also sparked clashes between government forces and villagers who support the militants.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the two became independent and angrily split in 1947. Both claim the whole region which has been the cause of two wars between the neighbours.
Indian forces battling a decades old uprising that has cost tens of thousands of mainly civilian lives have stepped up counter-insurgency operations in the region during a recent coronavirus lockdown.
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