A six-year-old boy caught in crossfire was among five people killed in Indian Kashmir on Friday, officials said, as security forces step up a clampdown in the disputed Himalayan region.
New Delhi has bolstered counter-insurgency efforts in the restive territory, with at least 33 separatist militants killed this month.
The child was in a car that drove into a gun battle between suspected rebels and paramilitaries near the town of Bijbehara, a police officer said.
‘The boy and a soldier were injured during the exchange of fire and both later died in hospital,’ said the officer, who asked not to be named.
Three rebels were killed in a separate firefight at Chewa, near the region’s main city Srinagar, in a battle that lasted 20 hours, army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.
Armed clashes are frequent in Indian Kashmir but have increased in recent weeks.
Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan and has been divided between the two nuclear-armed rivals since 1947.
Rebel groups have fought for decades for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan.
An insurgency launched three decades ago has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
India has 500,000 soldiers stationed in its section of Kashmir and accuses Pakistan of arming militant groups there.
Tensions have mounted again in Kashmir since August last year when India revoked the region’s semi-autonomous status, detained local political leaders and imposed a months-long internet and mobile phone blackout.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from South Asia