SRINAGAR: Sixteen people have been killed in Indian-held Kashmir in some of the fiercest fighting this year in the region, police said Sunday, as authorities braced for more violence.
A total of three Indian soldiers and 11 suspected militants died in several clashes south of Srinagar.
Two civilians were also killed and dozens injured when police opened fire on thousands of demonstrators who poured onto the streets, throwing stones and chanting slogans against Indian rule.
There were also demonstrations in Srinagar, where authorities ordered all schools shut on Monday as rebel groups called for protests.
Seven of the militants were killed along with two soldiers in a protracted shootout in the village of Dragad, where helicopters were seen swooping low over the battle zone.
Another man, described by Indian authorities as a militant, was gunned down in a brief exchange of fire in Dialgam.
Security forces were still taking fire from gunmen in the village of Kachdora, where one soldier and three insurgents had been killed, local police chief Shesh Paul Vaid told AFP.
“It is a massive operation. The fight is still on,” inspector-general of police Swayam Prakash Pani told AFP.
Pakistan condemned the violence as a “mindless killing spree” and said those slaughtered were innocents.
“Such cowardly actions of the occupying forces only serve to fortify the resolve of the Kashmiri people,” Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement Sunday.
Last year was the deadliest of this decade in the region, with more than 200 alleged militants killed in a counter-insurgency offensive dubbed “Operation All Out”.
That upsurge in violence has escalated in 2018, with 49 militants already killed this year. – AFP