One Kashmiri youth and at least four Indian soldiers were killed on Monday in a fierce gunfight in occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama district, where a suicide bomber killed 41 Indian paramilitaries last week, media reports said.
One soldier was also critically wounded in the shootout as troops launched a search operation in Pulwama.
“Four soldiers were killed during the shootout and another one is injured,” an Indian police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The official claimed that the Indian soldiers fired warning shots and the Kashmiri fighters fired back, unleashing the firefight in the district, 40 kilometres south of Srinagar. The official added that the fighters were believed to have escaped.
Indian forces have launched a massive hunt for Kashmiri fighters in parts of occupied Kashmir since Thursday’s bombing. An explosives-packed van rammed a convoy transporting 2,500 security forces in the deadliest attack in Kashmir in 30 years.
India has an estimated 500,000 soldiers in Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan and riven by unrest since the end of British rule in 1947.
Kashmiris have been fighting for an independent Kashmir, or a merger with Pakistan, since 1989.
New Delhi accuses Pakistan of fuelling the uprising that has left tens of thousands of civilians dead. Islamabad denies the charge, saying it only provides diplomatic support to Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.