Six militants who were suspected members of an al-Qaeda cell in Indian Kashmir were killed in a gunfight with security forces on Saturday in south Kashmir, police said.
Hours after the gunfight in Tral town of Pulwama district, other suspected militants attacked security forces in Anantanag district, injuring five security personnel.
Saturday’s violence came a day after two soldiers were killed in a sniper attack by Pakistan army forces from across the Line of Control in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, defense officials said.
Police termed the killing of militants on Saturday as a major blow to the militant group.
“All six militants hiding in a hide-out in an orchard were gunned down during a brief gun battle. It is indeed a major blow to the terror group,” superintendent of police, Awantipora Mohammad Zahid, told BenarNews. Officials said the militants were members of the terror outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, al-Qaeda’s cell in Kashmir.
“We had credible inputs about the presence of militants in an orchard and when they opened fire on the security forces, a gun battle followed resulting in the killing of six militants,” he added.
Police identified one of militants as Sohila Mohammad Akhoon, a close aide of Kashmir’s most wanted terrorist Zakir Musa. Musa heads Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind.
After the shootout, hundreds of civilians took the streets in Tral town, clashing with government forces in several locations, according to the Associated Press. No injuries were reported as a result of the clashes.
Muslim-majority Kashmir has grappled with a separatist insurgency that has killed more than 70,000 people since the late 1980s. The Himalayan territory is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan, who have fought two wars over it.
Al-Qaeda established Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind in Indian Kashmir in July 2017, police said.