Indian government police and troops have killed the head of a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-administered Kashmir. Tensions in the disputed region are running high, with more deaths in 2017 than for a decade.
At the funeral procession for Noor Mohammad Tantray on Tuesday, mourners chanted anti-India slogans as they carried the rebel commander's body.
Leader in the Kashmir valley of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group, Noor was killed in a gun battle after being trapped in a house near the city of Srinagar overnight on Monday into Tuesday, Indian police said in a statement.
Police and troops cordoned off a group of houses at Samboora, "which resulted in a fierce gun battle leading to elimination of top JeM commander Noor Mohammad Tantray," the statement said. This was a "significant breakthrough," it read.
Tantray's two associates escaped, a police official told the French news agency AFP.
The 47-year-old JeM head, who stood just three feet (about 1 meter) tall according to police reports, took over as head of the group in Indian Kashmir in 2016.
According to police he had spent 12 years in jail after being convicted in a case of militancy in 2003, but jumped parole two years later to rejoin JeM.
A bloody year
This has been the deadliest year in the disputed region for a decade, with 350 deaths reported. Officials and rights groups say 210 suspected militants, 57 civilians and 82 troops or police have been killed.
Pakistan said on Tuesday that Indian forces had killed three of its soldiers near the Line of Control in the region. A military statement said the "unprovoked cease-fire violation" took place Monday in Rawalakot in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir.
This came two days after India's army said four of its soldiers had been killed by Pakistani fire.
On Tuesday, Pakistan summoned an Indian diplomat and lodged a protest over the killing of Pakistani soldiers.
Tensions have also been running high over the treatment of an alleged Indian spy awaiting execution in Pakistan.
Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan at the end of British colonial rule over the subcontinent in 1947. Both claim the entire Muslim-majority territory in full.
Since 1989 rebel groups including JeM have been fighting Indian troops and police deployed in the Himalayan territory. They seek its merger with Pakistan or its independence.
jbh/jm (AP, dpa, AFP