Indian troops kill five suspected rebels in Kashmir gun battles

The killings were reported a day after suspected rebels shot dead five Indian army soldiers in a gunfight in the disputed region.

Indian government forces have killed five suspected rebels in two clashes in Indian-administered Kashmir, police say, a day after the rebels killed five army soldiers in a gunfight in the disputed region.

The first clash erupted following a raid by soldiers and counterinsurgency police in the Imamsahab area of southern Shopian district, police said on Tuesday.

Troops cordoned off the area late on Monday, and a gun battle broke out when the rebels refused to surrender, police said. Three rebels were killed in the ensuing fight early on Tuesday, police said.

Residents said troops blasted one civilian house with explosives during the fighting, a common tactic by the Indian troops in Indian-administered Kashmir.

In a separate clash on Tuesday, two suspected rebels were killed inside an apple orchard during a security operation in the village of Feeripora, also in Shopian, police said.

On Monday, five Indian soldiers were killed in the deadliest gun battle with rebels this year in a forested area of southern Surankote district. Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand, an Indian army spokesperson, said troops continued with search operations in the area on Tuesday.

The uptick in violence comes amid a sweeping crackdown by the government forces in the Kashmir Valley following a string of targeted killings in the region’s main city of Srinagar last week.

Police detained more than 700 people for questioning after suspected rebels shot and killed a prominent Kashmiri Hindu chemist, two schoolteachers of the Hindu and Sikh faiths, and a Hindu street food vendor from India’s eastern state of Bihar.

Police in a statement said one of the slain rebels on Tuesday was involved in the killing of the street food vendor.

India and Pakistan claim the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir in its entirety, but each administers part of it.

Rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi’s rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

India alleges the Kashmir rebellion is sponsored by Pakistan, a charge denied by Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.

General