SRINAGAR, India (AP) — At least five rebels were killed and three civilians and a soldier injured on Thursday in armed confrontations and anti-India protests in disputed Kashmir, officials said.
Four militants died in heavy fighting in southern Pakharpore village after troops launched a counterinsurgency operation on a tip that rebels were hiding in a house, said Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian military spokesman.
Residents said soldiers used explosives to blast the house.
As the fighting raged, hundreds of residents protested in solidarity with the rebels and clashed with the government forces to help the trapped militants escape. Three civilians were injured in the clashes as government forces fired bullets and shotgun pellets to stop the rock-throwing protesters.
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In a separate gunbattle in the Sopore area, one militant was reportedly killed and an army commando was wounded, police said.
No rebel group commented on the clashes, the latest in a string of deadly confrontations between Indian forces and rebels in restive Kashmir.
About 200 rebels and 70 government soldiers have been killed in fighting this year.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir and control portions of the region. Anti-India sentiment runs deep, and most people support the rebels’ cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.
About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.