Three Rebels Die in Kashmir Firefight

Amin Masoodi
2015.11.25
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151125-IN-kupwara-620 Indian soldiers stand guard near where three suspected rebels were killed during a firefight in the Tanghdar sector, north of Kashmir’s Kupwara district, Nov. 25, 2015.
AFP

Three suspected insurgents and a civilian were killed Wednesday during a seven-hour gunfight that followed a rebel attack on an army outpost near the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir’s Kupwara district, police and army officials said.

Residents of Tanghdar, a nearby town, said panic gripped the area after the firefight erupted.

“Flames went high up in the sky, when the fuel depot in the nearby army camp caught fire. Many families in my neighborhood gathered at one place and hid themselves behind walls,” student Mohammad Iqbal Dohi told BenarNews.

On Wednesday night, troops were scouring the area as they searched for militants on the Kalsuri ridge near the site of the attack about 15 km (9.3 miles) from the LoC, the de facto border that separates the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir, officials said.

The civilian who was killed in the crossfire, Ahmad Sheikh, 27, was working as a generator mechanic with the army’s 3/1 Gorkha Rifle regiment. A solider also was injured in the firefight and was presumed dead earlier on, but he was in stable condition now after being treated at a military hospital in Kupwara, some 180 km (112 miles) from Srinagar, Col. N.N. Joshi, a regional spokesman for the army, told BenarNews.

Separately, a police source, who requested anonymity, identified the soldier as a junior commissioned officer.

“The operation is over now. All three militants involved in the gun battle were killed and their bodies retrieved. We are ascertaining their identities,” Kupwara Police Superintendent Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told Benar News.

“Army troops and a special operations group of police were engaged in the gun-battle. Arms and ammunition, including three AK-47 rifles, were recovered from the slain militants,” he said.

Wednesday’s battle came two days after Indian forces killed four suspected militants in various skirmishes around the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. In Jammu, an Indian soldier was killed that day when rebels fired upon his unit, according to officials.

Separatist insurgents have been fighting Indian forces in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir since the late 1980s.

Morning attack

The attack by militants began around 6:40 a.m. Wednesday, when they fired a single mortar round at the army camp from a distance of about 400 meters (1,312 feet), Joshi said. After a 10-minute lull, a firefight broke out between the militants and security forces, according to the army spokesman.

“The insurgents did not force their entry into the army camp, but they continued to fire toward it from a distance,” Joshi said.

“The trio later fired a few motor shells or grenades that exploded near the fuel depot,” Joshi said.

Army officials were not sure if the militants had recently entered Indian territory or were already embedded in the region, according to Joshi.

The border towns of Tanghdar and Machil are considered easy infiltration routes for militants to cross into India from Pakistan. In July alone, the army foiled four infiltration bids, killing one militant, according to The Tribune newspaper.

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