Indian Army soldiers leave the site gunfight at village Malwah some 35 kilometers north of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 22 April 2022. EFE/EPA/FILE/FAROOQ KHAN

5 militants killed by security forces in Indian Kashmir

Srinagar (India), Jun 16, (EFE).- Five militants have been killed in the northern area of Indian administered Kashmir during a fierce gunfight with government forces, the police said on Friday.

Kashmir division police chief Vijay Kumar told reporters that “five foreign terrorists were killed in an encounter with security forces in the frontier Kupwara district.”

The gunfight began overnight near the Line of Control (LoC), a highly militarized de-facto border dividing the Himalayan region between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947.

Authorities suspect that the militants had infiltrated recently from the Pakistan administered part of the disputed territory.

“Our alert troops have foiled an infiltration bid along the Line of Control in Poonch district early yesterday (Thursday),” defense spokesperson Lt. Colonel Devender Anand told reporters in Jammu.

“An assault rifle with nine magazines and 438 rounds, two pistols with four magazines and 60 rounds, six hand grenades, were recovered during the search operation,” Anand said.

India accuses Pakistan of supporting armed insurgency in Kashmir and sending armed militants across the border into the Indian side. Islamabad has always denied the allegations.

This is the second such incident in the disputed region in the last three days.

On June 13, two unidentified militants were killed by the Indian security forces in the same border area of Kupwara district.

“Two terrorists were killed in Dobanar Machhal area of Kupwara district during a gunfight along the LoC on June 13,” a senior police official, who asked not to be named, told EFE.

Earlier, on June 2, a militant was killed in a gunfight with the security forces in another frontier district of Rajouri.

Authorities say that incidents of infiltration have been on the decline since a pact between the Indian and Pakistani armed forces in February 2021.

The latest gunfight comes two weeks before the Amarnath Yatra, a yearly Hindu pilgrimage to a cave situated at an altitude of 3,888 meters, about 150 km from Srinagar – the region’s main city -, and which has been targeted by militants in the past.

Authorities have already beefed up security arrangements for the pilgrimage, which has received a big boost especially since 2019, when the federal government at New Delhi under the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party unilaterally abrogated Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status.

Fearing militant attacks on the pilgrims, the federally appointed local administration has sought extra 300 companies of para-military “for the smooth conduct of the pilgrimage” starting from July 1. EFE