SRINAGAR - Separate clashes in Indian-occupied Kashmir killed ten people — six police officers, two civilians and two suspected rebels — authorities said on Friday, as violence in the troubled region spikes.

Suspected rebels ambushed a police patrol in the town of Achhabal, killing six police personnel, including a station house officer (SHO) and four constables. Police said the attack was apparently in retaliation to killing of a wanted militant commander, Junaid Mattu, who died fighting Indian forces at a nearby village in the morning.

Two civilians were also injured during the attack and both of them were being treated in the district hospital.

The attackers after lobbing a grenade resorted to indiscriminate firing, killing all the six policemen on board. One report said that the militants also took away weapons of the slain cops with them after the attack.

Earlier, soldiers and a police special counter-insurgency force cordoned off Arwani village on a tip off that armed rebels were hiding in two homes, triggering a firefight.

As the fighting raged, thousands of people in the village and neighbouring areas ignored the government security lockdown and marched to Arwani in an attempt to help the trapped rebels escape. They hurled rocks at the Indian troops and chanted slogans against Indian rule.

Police said a young man and a teenage boy were killed and at least five others were wounded in the crossfire between the government forces and rebels. However, villagers dismissed the police version, saying the casualties occurred when the Indian forces fired live ammunition, shotgun pellets and tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Authorities suspended mobile internet services in Kashmir and cellphone service in some areas of southern Kashmir, fearing activists would mobilise anti-India protests in the region.

Authorities claimed two suspected rebels were also killed in the shootout, the officer said.

The unrest spread to neighbouring villages as thousands of residents clashed with Indian government forces, hurling stones and chanting: ‘We want freedom’ and ‘Go India, go back’.

On Thursday, two Indian police officers were killed in two separate shootings by suspected rebels in Srinagar and in the southern Kulgam area. At the funeral of one of the slain policemen on Friday, hundreds of people chanted slogans calling for Kashmir's freedom from Indian rule.

Also on Friday, Indian soldiers fired at a taxi after it ignored orders to halt at a checkpoint in northern Bandipora, Khan said. Two civilians received bullet injuries but were reported to be out of danger.

Kashmiri leaders who challenge India's sovereignty over Kashmir called for a general strike on Saturday (today) to protest the killing of the civilians.

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.

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir's independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep among the region's mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels' cause against Indian rule. India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

Rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.