Three Indian police killed in Kashmir after militants spray bus with gunfire

Attack occurred in a heavily defended part of the disputed region

Indian soldiers outside the camp that was attacked by militants in 2016 at Baramulla, north-west of Srinagar, in India-controlled Kashmir. AP Photo

Three policemen were killed and 11 injured after militants ambushed a bus in the main city of Indian-administered-Kashmir, officials said.

Militants armed with assault rifles fired on the bus late on Monday as it returned to a camp in Zewan area of Srinagar, a heavily guarded area that is also the site of a police academy and several military installations.

Three of the injured succumbed to their wounds and 11 were being treated for injuries at an army hospital.

Images from the site showed the the bus with shattered glass panes and blood-smeared seats.

Police said the militants fled but that a manhunt had been launched to trace them.

“The area has been sealed off and a search operation is under way to track down the assailants," Manoj Pandita, a spokesman for Kashmir police, told The National.

The deadly attack came hours after government forces shot dead two suspected militants in Srinagar, triggering violent street clashes between government forces and locals, who claimed that police had staged the gunfight and killed the unarmed men.

Police said the militants were intercepted after a tip-off and were asked to surrender.

Kashmir has suffered a surge in violence in recent months despite a huge presence of government forces and a years-long crackdown against militant groups.

Last week two policemen were shot dead in the northern Bandipora district.

The Himalayan Muslim-majority region, also claimed by Pakistan, has for decades endured a rebellion against Indian rule.

Both India and Pakistan lay claim on the entire Kashmir region, which is divided between the two nuclear-armed arch-enemies, who have fought three of their four wars since 1947 over control of the territory.

The region has been tense since August 2019 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government arbitrarily stripped the partial autonomy of the region and divided the state into two federally-governed territories.

The move was followed by lengthy communication restrictions and security lockdowns with hundreds of Kashmiri activists, politicians and lawyers arrested shortly after.

At least 366 militants, 96 civilians and 81 security personnel were killed between August 2019 and November 2021, according to government records.

Updated: December 14th 2021, 9:35 AM