Police say five belonged to Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind
Indian security forces killed seven suspected militants in two clashes as occupied Kashmir saw some of its worst fighting in over seven months, the police said Friday.
Five suspected militants were killed in the southern town of Shopian during a shootout that began Thursday, triggering anti-India protests in the area.
The five suspects were trapped in a raid by security forces and two took shelter in a mosque in the Muslim-majority region claimed by Pakistan.
Officers sent the brother of one of the two into the mosque in a bid to persuade them to “surrender” but they refused, the police said.
“The five militants killed in the encounter include the chief of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind,” a police officer told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The police had previously said that Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, one of a host of militant groups fighting Indian rule, was wiped out last year.
Two other suspected militants were killed in a separate gun battle in the Tral area of southern Kashmir, the police said.
They, however, declined to give details of how the militants died inside the mosque. Senior police officials were told this week to stop journalists going close to the sites of fighting or protests.
Several journalist groups have expressed concern at the police move. One joint statement said “it appears to be a tactic to coerce journalists into not reporting facts on the ground”.
Rebels regularly clash with the 500,000-strong government forces in the restive territory but Friday was the deadliest since August last year when 15 militants were killed in three shootouts over two days.
It was also one of the deadliest since New Delhi brought the region under direct rule in August 2019 after cancelling its semi-autonomous status.
Rebel groups launched an insurrection against Indian rule in 1989, seeking independence for Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.
Tens of thousands have died in the fighting, most of them civilians.