Suspected rebels kill three soldiers in India-held Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Suspected rebels killed three Indian soldiers during firing overnight near the heavily militarised border dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, an Indian army spokesman said on Monday.


Indian soldiers discovered their colleagues’ bodies on Monday morning during a search for militants in Hafruda forest, 140 kilometres northwest of India-held Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar.

“We had three fatalities. The soldiers came under fire during the night,” Indian army spokesman colonel N. N. Joshi told AFP.

Joshi said an armed militant was also killed in a separate encounter in the nearby valley of Lolab overnight.

On Sunday two suspected militants, whom the army claimed belonged to the Jaish-i-Muhammad group, were killed during a gunbattle in Tral area south of Srinagar. A soldier was injured in the encounter.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. But both claim the territory in its entirety.

Several rebel groups have for decades been fighting hundreds of thousands of Indian forces deployed in the region, seeking independence for the territory or its merger with Pakistan.

Indian often accuses Pakistan of training and arming rebels, while Islamabad says it only provides diplomatic and moral support for the Kashmiri people’s struggle for self-determination. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict, mostly civilians.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week proposed a new peace initiative with India over Kashmir, suggesting demilitarisation of the disputed territory, after a surge in cross-border shelling. The firing has killed dozens of civilians since last year.