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6 Militants, Indian Soldier Die in Shootouts on Border in Kashmir

Amin Masoodi
Srinagar, India
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An Indian soldier stands guard in central Srinagar in Kashmir, June 5, 2017.

Indian security forces killed six suspected Pakistani militants while foiling a series of infiltration attempts during a 48-hour span along the de facto border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, officials said Thursday.

An Indian soldier and three of the suspected militants were killed during a shootout in north Kashmir’s Nowgam sector on Thursday, police said.

“Three Pakistani militants attempting to infiltrate Indian territory near the LoC in Nowgam sector were shot dead by alert army soldiers. One Indian soldier was also martyred,” Ghulam Jeelani, Indian Kashmir’s superintendent of police, told BenarNews.

He was referring to the Line of Control, the de facto border. Both India and Pakistan claim the insurgency-ravaged Himalayan region in its entirety.

“A war-like store, including three assault rifles, was recovered from the slain militants, whose identities are still to be ascertained,” he said, adding the militants likely belonged to Pakistan-based militant outfits Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

The shootout in Nowgam came a day after the Indian Army killed three suspected Pakistani militants along the LoC in Kupwara district.

“The heavily armed Pakistani nationals were attempting to cross into the Indian side. They were eliminated during an exchange of fire that lasted about two hours,” Kupwara’s superintendent of police Shamsher Hussain told BenarNews.

Meanwhile, two soldiers were injured in a suspected militant attack near the LoC in Baramulla district, according to officials.

“The soldiers were winding up a search operation in the district’s Uri sector when they were fired upon by militants who fled into the densely forested area after the attack,” an Indian Army official said while requesting anonymity.

Ongoing tensions

The foiled infiltration attempts came amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan since the Indian Army accused Pakistani troops of beheading two of its soldiers along the LoC on May 1. The two arch rivals have fought three full-blown wars over the ownership of Kashmir since the partition of the sub-continent in 1947.

A curfew remained in effect for a second day Thursday in South Kashmir’s Shopian district following the killing of a 20-year-old civilian by Indian security forces during anti-India demonstrations on Tuesday. Adil Magray’s death triggered violent protests in the region, which has seen regular street clashes between anti-India protesters and government forces since the killing of a top separatist leader last July.

The Indian side of Kashmir, which also is known as Jammu and Kashmir state, has been grappling with a separatist insurgency that has killed more than 70,000 since the late 1980s.

Pakistan Army blamed

The Indian Army on Thursday accused its Pakistani counterpart of backing infiltration attempts by militants into Indian Kashmir by providing them active support, including cover fire.

“Indian Army units deployed along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir have foiled multiple attempts made by Pakistan army to push armed infiltrators across the LoC,” an unnamed defense spokesman told the Times of India.

“These armed intruder groups were being provided active support including cover fire by Pakistan army posts on the LoC to assist them in infiltration into the Kashmir valley,” the spokesman said.

India has on several occasions blamed Pakistan for backing militancy in Kashmir. But Pakistan repeatedly denied this charge, saying the decades-old violence in the region was a result of India’s oppressive rule.

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