Anti-India clashes erupted between government forces and residents of a village in occupied Kashmir on Friday following a gunbattle in which troops killed three freedom fighters, police and residents said.
The gunfight erupted shortly after scores of counter-insurgency police and soldiers launched an operation based on a tip about the presence of fighters in Kakpora village in southern Pulwama district, Inspector General Vijay Kumar said.
Kumar said two of the three slain men had been involved in fatally shooting a policeman guarding the home of a local politician from India’s ruling party in the region’s main city on Thursday. He said troops recovered two rifles and a pistol from the site of Friday’s clash, and that one of the recovered weapons had been taken by the fighters from the slain policeman.
Residents said troops used explosives to blast a civilian house during the fighting, a common tactic employed by Indian troops in occupied Kashmir.
As the fighting raged, hundreds of people marched nearby in solidarity with the fighters while chanting slogans seeking the end of Indian rule over the region. Government forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the stone-throwing protesters.
At least four civilians were injured in the clashes, including a woman with a bullet injury in her leg.
Kumar said the woman was injured in the crossfire between Indian troops and militants.
Pakistan condemns ‘unabated extra-judicial killings’
In a media briefing on Friday, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said Pakistan strongly condemned the “unabated extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris in ‘fake encounters’ and ‘cordon-and-search’ operations” in the occupied valley.
He said that Indian forces had martyred six more Kashmiris in the last two weeks. “These extrajudicial killings of Kashmiris are a clear violation of the humanitarian norms and fundamental precepts of international law,” he added.
Chaudhri reiterated Pakistan’s demand for an immediate and transparent inquiry into the killings. He also called for a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir issue in line with resolutions of the United Nations Security Council for “durable peace and stability in the region”.
Tens of thousands of civilians, fighters, and government forces have been killed in the conflict in occupied Kashmir.
In a surprising decision last month, India and Pakistan agreed to reaffirm their 2003 ceasefire accord that has silenced guns along the de facto frontier dividing Kashmir. However, a crackdown by Indian forces and attacks by fighters have continued inside the Indian-occupied portion of Kashmir.