Security forces in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir engaged in a fatal encounter that killed five suspected militants, police reported on Friday. Police say that at least two were adolescents were among the deceased, and three had recently joined rebel factions.
Officials say they initiated the operation after intelligence revealed insurgents hiding in a village in the southern Kulgam district. A prolonged gunfight ensued, beginning Thursday evening and lasting until Friday. Local residents reported the demolition of two civilian residences through the use of explosives, a tactic frequently employed by Indian troops in their anti-militancy endeavors in the region. Moreover, one dwelling sustained partial damage.
The counterinsurgency operation follows a recent clash in nearby Anantnag in September, which resulted in the loss of three Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer and his deputy, alongside a police officer. The week-long operation in Anantnag culminated in the death of two people accused of being militants.
Tensions remain high as the conflict over Kashmir persists. India and Pakistan both administer parts of the territory while claiming it in its entirety, and rebel groups have been advocating for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989, garnering support from most Muslim Kashmiris.
After the special status of Kashmir was revoked by the India’s BJP government, the region has experienced significant restrictions on dissent, civil liberties, and media freedoms, along with escalating counterinsurgency operations and resistance from local political bodies and community organizations. Kashmir currently is one of the world’s most militarized zones and has the highest number of internet shutdowns in the world, attracting frequent criticism from organisations like Amnesty International and the UN.