Anti-India protests in Kashmir after troops kill five rebels

At least 10 civilians injured as security forces fire teargas and pellets at protesters

An Indian paramilitary solider stands guard near a temporary checkpoint during a strike in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. Restriction on the movement of vehicles were imposed protectively in parts of Srinagar as separatist groups called for a strike on the anniversary of execution of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri who was convicted and given death sentence for his role in the 2001 attack on Indian Parliament. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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Five rebels were killed in fighting with Indian government forces in the Kashmir region on Sunday, the army said, triggering protests in which at least 10 civilians were injured.

The fighting began after government forces cordoned off a village in the southern Kulgam area following a tip that militants were hiding there, said Col Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for the Indian military in disputed Himalayan region. The searches led to an exchange of gunfire in which five militants were killed.

The fighting sparked protests and clashes as hundreds of residents tried to march to the site of the battle in solidarity with the militants. The protesters were chanting pro-rebel slogans and demanding an end to Indian rule over the region.

Government forces fired shotgun pellets and teargas at the protesters, who threw stones and snowballs at them. At least 10 civilians were injured and were taken to hospital, medics and local residents said.

India and Pakistan each claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989 and civilian street protests are common.

Most Kashmiris support the rebel position that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.