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Two Suspected Militants, Trooper Killed in Indian Kashmir Clashes

Two suspected militants and a paramilitary trooper were killed and six security personnel wounded in clashes in Indian-administered Kashmir, police said Wednesday.

The first incident occurred late Tuesday night in Hiranagar, a village near the frontier with Pakistan which, like India, claims the Himalayan region in full.

Security forces rushed to the border village, with a man killed in the initial gunfight who police believed had crossed over from the Pakistan side.

“Another militant who was hiding in the area and firing intermittently was also killed later,” a police spokesperson told AFP, adding that a paramilitary soldier who was wounded during the clash died in hospital.

Police said both militants were suspected to have crossed recently from Pakistan and had been asking villagers for water.

Hours later, suspected rebels threw grenades and fired at an army checkpoint in the remote Doda area around 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the north, wounding six soldiers and a police officer.

The wounded personnel were taken to hospital for treatment, police senior superintendent Javaid Iqbal told AFP.

“A search operation is on in the forest area,” he said.

The incidents came days after a gunman opened fire on a bus full of Indian pilgrims returning from a Hindu shrine in the southern Kashmir district of Reasi, killing nine and wounding dozens.

Survivors at a hospital told AFP on Tuesday that the attacker continued firing on the bus for several minutes after it crashed into a ravine.

Army special forces and police have launched a manhunt in a vast forested area and released a sketch of the attacker, announcing a reward of $24,000 for information leading to his location.

India has around 500,000 soldiers permanently deployed in Kashmir.

The three back-to-back incidents follow an uptick in militant attacks in the southern Hindu-dominated areas of the Muslim-majority territory.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947, and the rivals have fought three wars over control of the territory.

Rebel groups have waged a violent insurgency since 1989, demanding independence for Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers, and rebels.

Clashes between rebels and soldiers have drastically reduced since 2019, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government revoked the limited constitutional autonomy of the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of supporting and arming the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies.

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