5 killed including Indian soldier in Kashmir

Killings take place when protest erupted near site of gun battle between troops, militants in Kashmir’s south, police say
SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir: Four civilians, including a minor and an Indian soldier were killed in a gun battle between militants and Indian forces in southern Kashmir on Wednesday, according to a military official and police.
“One of our soldiers has been martyred in the gun battle. The operation has been called off. We did not recover the bodies of any militants,” Col. Rajesh Kalia, spokesman for the Indian army, told Anadolu Agency.
The police in the region also confirmed the killings of four civilians.
“Four civilians identified as Sarjeel Sheikh of Khudwani, Bilal Ahmad Tantray of Frisal, Faisal Ilahi of Shopian, Aijaz Ahmad Palla of Bijbehara who were injured in the crossfire have also succumbed to their injuries,” the police said in a statement.
The killings took place when a protest erupted near the site of the gun battle in Khudwani area in southern Kashmir, police said.
Local residents told Anadolu Agency hundreds of people had rushed to the site of the gun battle to help the trapped militants escape.
“The Indian forces opened fire on the civilians and killed a teenager. More people from neighboring villages came out once the news of the civilians’ killing spread. The Indian forces fired at people again and dozens of civilians were hit by bullets,” Dilshad Ahmad, a resident of Khudwani, said.
In a statement, the pro-independence leadership in the region called for a two-day shutdown in protest against the killings.
Meanwhile, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of Hurriyat (M), called the killings an attempt to “wipe out” Kashmiris and urged the international community and the United Nations to “step in”.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
The two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.–AA

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