Asia Pacific

5 Suspected Rebels Killed in Indian Kashmir

Five suspected militants were killed Friday in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir near the heavily militarized frontier that divides the disputed territory with Pakistan, police said.

Police chief Vijay Kumar said on Twitter the “foreign terrorists” died during a clash with government forces in the forested Jumagund area, around 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Srinagar.

The incident could not independently be verified by AFP.

It came two days after two suspected rebels were killed in the same area following an attempt by an armed group to cross over from Pakistan, officials said.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the partition of both countries at the end of the British colonial era in 1947. Both claim the territory in full.

Tens of thousands have died since the 1989 start of an insurgency by rebels seeking independence or a merger with Pakistan, and India has more than half a million troops stationed in the Himalayan territory.

But the frequency of armed clashes between Indian soldiers and insurgents has dropped significantly in recent years as India works to fortify its rule over the territory.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government suddenly canceled Kashmir’s limited autonomy in 2019.

New laws have permitted Indians outside the territory to resettle there, a policy denounced by critics as “settler colonialism.”

India has sought to portray the return of “normalcy” to the restive region and last month hosted a G20 tourism meeting in regional capital Srinagar.

Eleven government troops, 17 suspected rebels, and 10 civilians have been killed in violence so far this year.

Last year, at least 223 combatants and 30 civilians died in the region, according to official records.

India accuses Pakistan of helping rebel groups who have waged a popular insurgency for decades.

Islamabad denies the charge, saying it provides political and moral support to a Kashmiri struggle for self-determination.

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