Protests in Kashmir after Indian forces kill five fighters

Protesters demanded an end to India’s occupation of Kashmir as police fired shotgun pellets and tear gas.

At least five fighters have been killed by Indian forces in Shopian in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The killings, that took place on Sunday, triggered protests by residents in the area.

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The Associated Press news agency quoted Indian army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia as saying that army and police surrounded a village in the southern Shopian area after being informed that some rebels were hiding there.

An exchange of gunfire led to the killing of the five fighters, Kalia said. Residents told AP that troops destroyed at least one house with explosives.

Protests and clashes followed as hundreds of residents tried to march to the site of the battle.

Chanting slogans demanding an end to India’s occupation of Kashmir, demonstrators threw stones at police and paramilitary soldiers, who fired shotgun pellets and tear gas.

No casualties were immediately reported in the clashes.

India has stepped up its operations across Kashmir in recent months.

Police said 73 rebels have been killed in the Muslim-majority Kashmir this year.

In April alone, more than two dozen rebels and about a dozen Indian troops were killed, the most in any month since August 2019, when India revoked the region’s semi-autonomous status and statehood and imposed direct federal rule.

Since 1989, Kashmir’s rebel groups have fought for decades for the region’s independence or its merger with Pakistan, resulting in nearly 70,000 deaths, mostly civilians.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the anti-India rebels. Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to the rebels and to Kashmiri civilians who oppose Indian rule.

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