SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian government forces killed two militants who tried to snatch a guard’s rifle in disputed Kashmir, police said, and protests against Indian rule and clashes erupted Friday as word of the killings spread.
At least two insurgents were trapped overnight in a home on the outskirts of the region’s main city of Srinagar after they tried to take the rifle from an officer guarding a local leader of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, police said. The officer was wounded.
Counterinsurgency police and soldiers cordoned off the neighborhood and killed two insurgents in the exchange of gunfire that followed, police said in a statement.
The slain insurgents were from neighboring Pulwama district, where officials ordered schools and colleges closed on Friday in an attempt to stop student protests.
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Protests and clashes occurred separately in another village north of Srinagar after authorities sealed it on a tip that a couple of rebels were hiding there.
Police said a brief gunbattle followed, but at least two militants escaped during the severe clashes between rock-throwing protesters and government forces using tear gas.
No one was immediately reported injured.
In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants.
The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone-throwers during counterinsurgency operations.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, which in recent years has seen renewed rebel attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety.
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.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.