Three dead as violence surges in Kashmir

SRINAGAR – Indian forces shot dead two suspected freedom fighters in Indian-occupied Kashmir in clashes that also killed a young woman, police said Tuesday, as the deadliest year of the decade in the disputed territory draws to a close.

At least 210 suspected freedom fighters have been killed this year – the most since 2010 – amid a military campaign to rout armed groups resisting Indian rule in the divided Himalayan region.

In addition, 57 civilians and 78 security personnel have also lost their lives in violence across the conflict-wracked valley, according to police officials and watchdogs.

In the latest clash, two suspected freedom fighters were shot dead in a firefight that began Monday evening in southern Shopian district, inspector general of police Munir Ahmed Khan told AFP.

Hundreds of Kashmiris rushed to the scene chanting anti-India slogans and hurling stones at the troops in protests that continued raging Tuesday morning.

Police opened fire with pellet guns, hospitalising 12 people. A soldier and a police officer were also wounded during the clashes.

Police said a young woman was killed in crossfire.

“One young woman died in the crossfire when one of the militants came out of a house today (Tuesday) and started firing at the security forces,” Khan added.

Some witnesses claimed the woman was killed by police during the demonstrations, not in crossfire, though this could not be independently verified.

Tensions were already high in Kashmir after a taxi driver was gunned down during an army operation Saturday evening. An official investigation is underway into his death.

Kashmir has been divided between nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 but both lay claim over the entire former Himalayan kingdom.

Kashmiri groups have been fighting since 1989 against the roughly half a million Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or a merger of the entire disputed region with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.

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