Several dead as India intensifies campaign against militants in Kashmir | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 02.04.2018
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Several dead as India intensifies campaign against militants in Kashmir

Twenty people have been killed in Indian Kashmir during clashes between police and suspected militants, as well as during protests. Many civilians support a rebel campaign for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Deadly protests against Indian rule erupted in several parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Sunday following the killings of several suspected militants during gun battles with government forces, officials said.

A total of three Indian soldiers and 13 rebels died in the worst day of violence so far this year as clashes erupted in several locations south of Srinagar, the main city of the region.

Much of the violence took place around the village of Dragad, where seven of the alleged militants were killed, along with two soldiers.

Read more: What is Pakistan's militancy issue all about?

Civilians killed

Four civilians were also killed and dozens injured when police opened fire on thousands of demonstrators who poured onto the streets of Kachdoora village in Shopian district, throwing stones and chanting slogans against Indian claim on the region.

Many protesters tried to march to the gun battle sites to help the trapped militants escape, and were confronted with tear gas and gunfire from Indian troops.

The new round of anti-India protests and clashes began as Indian troops launched counterinsurgency operations targeting mainly the southern parts of the disputed Himalayan region, where rebels have revived their violent challenge to New Delhi's rule.

Read more: Hindu extremists challenge Kashmir's 'special status'

Protests against Indian rule in Kashmir (picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Khan)

Thousands of people poured onto the streets in Indian-ruled Kashmir as gunbattles between Indian troops and rebels worsened

Protests also broke out in Srinagar, where all schools were ordered shut on Monday. Train services to south Kashmir were suspended as a precautionary measure.

Communications cuts

Authorities cut mobile data services in the most restive towns, and reduced connection speeds in other parts of Kashmir to disrupt the communications of protest organizers.

Kashmir has been divided between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, but both claim it in full.

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Indian government forces kill militant leader Indian-administered Kashmir

Many civilians in Kashmir — India's only Muslim-majority state — support rebels who have been fighting for decades for independence or for a merger with Pakistan. Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died.

Read more: Indian police kill Pakistan-based militant Noor Mohammad Tantray in Kashmir

Last year was the deadliest of this decade in the region, with more than 200 alleged militants killed. That upsurge in violence has escalated in 2018, with 51 alleged militants already killed this year.

mm/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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