Armed rebels kill three Indian soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir

Hundreds of police and paramilitary troops were sent around commercial districts in Srinagar, region's largest city

Three soldiers were killed in Kashmir during a clash with suspected rebels, police said on Saturday. AP
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Three soldiers were killed in Indian-administered Kashmir during a clash with suspected rebels as the disputed region marked the fourth anniversary of New Delhi imposing direct rule, police said on Saturday.

An army patrol looking for armed rebels in the forests of Halan in the southern Kashmir valley clashed with the militants on Friday night. Three were wounded in the exchange of fire.

“The three personnel sustained injuries and later succumbed,” police wrote on Twitter.

A search operation was under way to track the rebels.

Fighting between rebels and government forces has decreased significantly since August 2019, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government ended the Muslim-majority region's limited autonomy.

The government said the move was meant to bring peace and development to the region.

But nearly 900 people, including 144 members of Indian security forces, have died in the four years since the change.

At least 63 people, including nine civilians, 16 government forces personnel and 38 suspected rebels have been killed this year so far, compared with 253 deaths last year.

Young men continue to join rebel groups that have been fighting for decades for the region's independence or its merger with Pakistan, which controls a smaller part of the divided Himalayan territory.

India's top court is currently weighing whether Mr Modi's government acted lawfully in suspending Kashmir's constitutionally guaranteed semi-autonomy.

There has been a curtailment of civil liberties there since, with restrictions on protests and journalists complaining of official harassment.

Several leaders of the local Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were detained overnight after authorities denied them permission to stage a protest against Saturday's anniversary of the 2019 decision.

“All this is being done to hoodwink the public opinion in the country,” PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti posted on Twitter, which is being rebranded as X, alongside footage of a party official being detained by police.

“Just goes on to expose the facade of normality.”

Hundreds of police and paramilitary troops were sent on Saturday to commercial districts in Srinagar, Kashmir's largest city, to keep order during the anniversary.

City shops are often closed in Srinagar during protests as a gesture of solidarity.

But two members of commercial associations representing the city's shopkeepers told AFP that retailers had been verbally instructed by police to remain open through the day.

Updated: August 05, 2023, 9:30 AM