SRINAGAR, India – A fierce gunbattle in Indian-controlled Kashmir left three suspected rebels and two Indian army soldiers dead, officials said Saturday.
The fighting began late Friday after Indian troops and police surrounded Karewa Malino, a village about 55 kilometers (35 miles) south of Indian Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, and launched a search for suspected militants there, said paramilitary officer Nalin Prabhat.
Prabhat said the exchange of fire stopped during the night after two militants and two soldiers, including an Indian army officer, were killed. However, fighting re-erupted Saturday morning, and a third militant was killed.
A residential house in which the militants were trapped was destroyed in the fighting. The army officer and another soldier were killed after a militant rose from the debris of the destroyed house and fired on the advancing troops, said a police officer, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.
There was no immediate statement from any of the rebel groups fighting against Indian rule.
Soon after the gunbattle ended, clashes erupted in the village and the nearby town of Shopian as hundreds of residents came out on the streets and chanted anti-India slogans as they hurled rocks at the troops.
Police and paramilitary soldiers fired tear gas to stop the spontaneous protests, the police officer said.
No one was reported injured in the street clashes.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, though it is claimed by both. There are frequent bouts of violence during the warmer months as anti-India rebels step up their attacks.
More than a dozen rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan.
About 68,000 people have been killed in more than 25 years of the conflict. While the armed rebellion has largely been suppressed, anti-India resentment still runs deep.
India accuses Pakistan of training and arming the rebels. Pakistan denies the charge and says it only provides moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiri militants.