SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A fierce gunbattle has killed five Indian government forces and five suspected militants in disputed Kashmir, officials said Wednesday.
The fighting erupted after government forces cordoned off a remote forested village in the mountains of northwestern Kupwara region on Tuesday following a tip that insurgents were hiding there, Kashmir police chief S.P. Vaid said.
Vaid said at least three insurgents were killed overnight and two others were killed Wednesday. Officials said they were continuing to search the area but the exchange of gunfire had stopped.
The government fatalities occurred on Wednesday. They consisted of two counterinsurgency police and three army soldiers. At least three police officials and a soldier were also wounded.
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No rebel group immediately issued any statement about the fighting.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, which in recent years has seen renewed rebel attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule.
Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding Kashmir be made part of Pakistan or become an independent country.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.
Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.