Monday, 17 January 2022

Five reported killed as India toughens Kashmir crackdown

REUTERS

SRINAGAR: Five people were killed in a gun battle between members of a Pakistani militant group and Indian security forces in disputed Kashmir on Sunday as India intensified a security crackdown, including detaining more than 160 separatists this weekend.

Three more soldiers were wounded in the battle in Turigam, a village in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, defense and police officials said. Two of the dead militants were from India, and one a foreigner, said a senior police officer who asked not to be identified.

Indian authorities have killed at least eight JeM militants and detained around 50 militants, sympathizers and their relatives since the bomb attack, which also sparked the roundup of separatists which India says is needed to head off trouble ahead of a general election to be held by May.

In some areas of the main city of Srinagar, the government limited the movement of people and vehicles.

“The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident,” the police said.

The government of Jammu and Kashmir said fuel rationing had been introduced in the Kashmir Valley where there was only enough gasoline for one day, diesel for four days and no liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

The suicide bomb attack has raised tensions between India and Pakistan which both claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part. India blames Pakistan for harboring militant groups operating in Kashmir, which Pakistan denies.

After the attack, India dropped trade privileges for Pakistan and prepared to send as many as 10,000 more troops to the contested area, according to a home ministry letter seen by Reuters.

The Indian army said that early on Sunday evening Pakistan violated the two nations’ ceasefire at the Rajouri area of the border, through shelling from mortars and small arms fire. Defense spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand said the Indian army was “retaliating strongly and effectively.

Cease-fire violations are not unusual along the border.

A Pakistani security official said Pakistani forces had not initiated any action but had responded to Indian firing.

Kashmir is likely to be a key issue in India’s election, distracting from concerns about how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have managed the economy.

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