By Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Four Indian security force personnel, including three officers, and two Islamist militants were killed in gunbattles in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Wednesday, officials said.
Claimed in full but ruled in part by India and Pakistan, Muslim-majority Kashmir has seen a bloody insurrection against New Delhi for decades, with militants fighting security forces since the 1990s.
Two officers of the Indian army – a colonel and a major – as well as a deputy superintendent of Kashmir police were killed in a gunbattle in the region of Anantnag, while a soldier and two militants were killed in a separate incident in the Rajouri district on Wednesday, officials told Reuters.
Kashmir is not unfamiliar with loss of lives of security personnel as they try to clamp down on militancy.
In a similar incident in the state in April, five Indian soldiers were killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire at an army vehicle. In August last year, militants attacked an Indian army post, killing three soldiers.
India says Pakistan supports militants in Kashmir. Islamabad denies this, saying it only provides diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiri people.
On Wednesday, the Indian army’s northern region commander, Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi, said Pakistan was trying to send foreign militants into Kashmir.
“The biggest thing is that Pakistan is trying to make efforts from its side to send foreign terrorists here despite the better internal conditions (security situation) so that they can create some kind of obstacle,” he told reporters.
In June, Indian police said security forces had killed five foreign militants in a gunfight along the Line of Control (LOC) – the region’s de facto border with Pakistan.
(Writing by Sakshi Dayal; editing by Mark Heinrich)