Five Die In Fresh Kashmir Gunbattles: Indian Officials

7 August 2009
Agence France-Presse

Spinagar: Two Indian army soldiers and three Muslim militants were killed in separate gunbattles in revolt-hit Kashmir, officials said Friday. The soldiers were killed late Thursday in two separate gunbattles with militants in northern Gurez and Kupwara districts, a police spokesman said, adding two more soldiers were injured during the fighting. 'The gunbattles erupted when militants tried to infiltrate into (Indian) Kashmir from other side of the LOC (Line of Control),' the spokesman said, referring to the de facto border that demarcates Kashmir between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan. Indian soldiers Friday shot dead three militants during a gunbattle in neighbouring Bandipora district, army spokesman Uma Maheshwar told AFP. 'The fighting erupted after soldiers launched a cordon and search operation on a tip-off,' he said, adding Indian troops were on alert along the LOC to prevent fresh attempts by militants to infiltrate into Indian Kashmir. The latest violence came two days after Indian soldiers killed eight Muslim militants in gunbattles along the LOC. There has been a sudden rise in separatist violence in the Himalayan region since last Saturday, when rebels killed two policemen in summer capital Srinagar. Nearly 30 people, most of them militants, have died in violence during the past week. Police attributed the upsurge to the national holiday on August 15 which marks India's independence from British rule. Over the last 20 years the insurgency in Kashmir has left more than 47,000 people dead according to an official count. India accuses Pakistan of training, arming and funding rebels battling New Delhi's rule in Indian Kashmir, a charge that Islamabad denies.