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    Friday, June 16, 2017

    Five Indian policemen, four civilians killed in Kashmir clashes

    Separate clashes in Indian occupied Kashmir killed nine people — five police officers, two civilians and two suspected rebels — authorities said on Friday, as violence in the troubled region spikes.
    Suspected rebels ambushed a police patrol in the town of Achhabal, killing five police personnel, a top police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
    Earlier, soldiers and a police special counter-insurgency force cordoned off Arwani village on a tip off that armed rebels were hiding in two homes, triggering a firefight, the officer said.Two civilians, including a teenage boy, were killed when security forces fired at hundreds of villagers who marched to the site of the shootout to help the rebels escape, he added.

    Two suspected rebels were also killed in the shootout, the officer said.
    The unrest spread to neighbouring villages as thousands of residents clashed with government forces, hurling stones and chanting: ‘We want freedom’ and ‘Go India, go back’.
    Five Indian police personnel were killed Friday when Kashmiri rebels fighting against Indian rule ambushed a police vehicle in India-held Kashmir (IHK), while two civilians were killed and several others injured in clashes that erupted during a gun-battle between rebels and Indian government forces in the disputed region, officials and witnesses said.
    Superintendent of Police Pani said rebels sprayed gunfire at the police vehicle in the southern Achabal area. All five officers on board were killed, he said. No other details were immediately available.
    On Thursday, two police officers were killed in two separate shootings by suspected rebels in Srinagar, the region's main city, and in the southern Kulgam area.
    At the funeral of one of the slain policemen on Friday, hundreds of people chanted slogans calling for Kashmir's freedom from Indian rule.
    Earlier Friday, Indian government forces cordoned off Arwani village in the south on a tip that at least two Kashmiri rebels were hiding there, said inspector-general of police Muneer Ahmed Khan.
    Fighting erupted when the militants began firing in an attempt to break through the siege, Khan said. Villagers said soldiers blasted at least two houses with explosives.
    As the fighting raged, thousands of people in the village and neighbouring areas ignored the government security lockdown and marched to Arwani in an attempt to help the trapped rebels escape. They hurled rocks at the troops and chanted slogans against Indian rule.
    Police said a young man and a teenage boy were killed and at least five others were wounded in the crossfire between the Indian government forces and rebels. However, villagers dismissed the police version, saying the casualties occurred when the occupying forces fired live ammunition, shotgun pellets and tear gas to disperse the protesters.
    Authorities suspended mobile internet services in Kashmir and cellphone service in some areas of southern Kashmir, fearing activists would mobilise anti-India protests in the region.
    Protests against Indian rule followed by clashes were also reported in other areas of the region. Several people were reportedly injured.
    In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants.
    The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.
    Kashmiri leaders who challenge India's sovereignty over IHK called for a general strike on Saturday to protest the killings.
    Also on Friday, Indian soldiers fired at a taxi after it ignored orders to halt at a checkpoint in northern Bandipora, Khan said. Two civilians received bullet injuries but were reported to be out of danger.
    Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir's independence or merger with Pakistan. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting and the ensuing Indian crackdown.
    Anti-India sentiment runs deep among the region's mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels' cause against Indian rule.
    Rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian forces in recent years and public opposition to Indian rule is now principally expressed through street protests.
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    Item Reviewed: Five Indian policemen, four civilians killed in Kashmir clashes Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar