Five rebels killed in gun battle with Indian soldiers in Kashmir

Five rebels killed in gun battle with Indian soldiers in Kashmir
Indian army vehicles leave after a gun battle in Shopian, south of Srinagar, in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Friday (Dar Yasin/AP)

Government forces killed five suspected rebels, including a teenager, in gun fights in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said on Sunday.

The back-to-back clashes began late on Saturday after troops cordoned off two villages in southern Kashmir’s Shopian and Bijbehara areas on intelligence that anti-India militants were hiding there, police said.

Three militants were killed and two soldiers wounded in Shopian, Inspector General Vijay Kumar told reporters, and said troops recovered a rifle and a pistol from the site.

One of the dead militants was a teenage boy who, according to officials, had joined rebel ranks few days earlier.

Mr Kumar said several attempts were made to seek the trapped militants’ surrender but they refused.

Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard in Shopian, south of Srinagar in Indian-controlled Kashmir (Dar Yasin/AP)

Indian forces killed two more militants in the second clash in Bijbehara, he said.

At least 15 militants, a policeman and an army soldier have been killed so far this month.

In a surprising decision last month, India and Pakistan agreed to reaffirm their 2003 ceasefire accord along the de facto frontier dividing Kashmir between the two sides.

However, a crackdown by Indian forces and attacks by rebels have continued inside the Indian-held portion.

Both countries claim the divided territory in its entirety.

Many Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.

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