January 3, 2023
Ten people have been killed within six days in a sudden uptick in violence in the usually more peaceful Hindu south of disputed Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said yesterday.
Rebel groups in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region have for decades fought for its independence or merger with Pakistan, which controls a smaller portion of the divided territory.
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About half a million Indian soldiers are deployed in Kashmir, and its southern portion, Jammu, is mostly Hindu and comparatively peaceful.
But two gunmen suspected to be anti-India rebels opened fire on houses in the remote village of Dangri on Sunday, leaving four residents dead and five injured, police officer Mukesh Singh told reporters. Police and security forces launched a manhunt in the area close to the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Yesterday, a seven-year-old child and another person were killed in an explosion near one of the houses, another police officer told AFP. An unexploded device was also found nearby and neutralised by a specialist squad, officers said.
The deaths followed a firefight between government forces and suspected rebels at a checkpoint in Jammu city on Wednesday.
Police said four suspected rebels were killed while the driver of their truck escaped and was on the run.
Officials said at least 172 suspected rebels and 26 armed forces personnel were killed in fighting last year.
Indian Kashmir has been without an elected government for over five years and has been directly controlled by New Delhi since 2019.
India regularly blames Pakistan for supporting the rebels, an allegation denied by Islamabad, which says it only provides diplomatic support to Kashmir’s struggle for the right to self-determination.