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Indian Independence Day attacks in Kashmir

August 15, 2016

One police officer has died and 10 police and paramilitary troops have been injured after gunmen attacked a police station in Srinagar. The attack coincides with the seventieth anniversary of Indian independence.

Indien police in Srinagar
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Khan

Indian security sources confirmed on Monday that a police paramilitary commander was shot dead as violence flared up again in the disputed Kashmir region.

According to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) two of the attackers were also killed during a gunfight in Srinagar's Nowhatta neighborhood where suspected rebels attacked troops who were on patrol to enforce a curfew.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been under curfew for almost six weeks since angry street protests broke out over the death of a popular young rebel leader. Burhan Wani, a commander of the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed in July in a gunfight with security forces.

K.K. Sharma, a top official of the CRPF said a gun battle with rebels was still ongoing.

A divided state

The attacks on Monday came just a day after Pakistan celebrated its Independence Day. Tens of thousands of residents rallied in Indian Kashmir on Sunday and hoisted Pakistani flags, chanting "Long Live Pakistan" and "Go India, go back."

At least 40 people were injured in clashes between rock-throwing protesters and government forces who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas in many places across the region, officials said.

In his annual Independence Day speech on Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi avoided making any direct reference to Kashmir, but criticized people in Pakistan for celebrating when what he described as "terrorist attacks" were launched on Indian soil.

Indian school children mark 70 years of independence from Britain
Indian school children in New Delhi mark 70 years of independence from BritainImage: picture-alliance/dpa/H. Tyagi

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

India also accuses Pakistan of arming and training Kashmiri rebels who have been fighting for independence or for a merger with Pakistan since 1989. Pakistan denies the charge, however, insisting that it provides only moral and political support.

More than 68,000 people have been killed since rebel groups began fighting Indian forces in 1989 and in a subsequent Indian military crackdown.

ksb/se (AFP, AP, dpa)