An Indian policeman maintains vigil atop of a vehicle in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 14 September 2023. EFE-EPA/FAROOQ KHAN

Indian soldier succumbs to injuries in Kashmir as 8 killed in clashes with militants

Srinagar, India, Aug 15 (EFE).- Clashes between government forces and insurgent groups in India-administered Kashmir continued on Friday for the third day in a row, even as another officer died as a result of the fighting, with eight people being killed in three days in separate insurgency-related incidents.

Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 14 September 2023. EFE-EPA/FAROOQ KHAN

On Friday, another soldier succumbed to the injuries he suffered on Wednesday in an exchange of fire in the Anantnag district, in which two military commanders and a high-ranking police officer had been killed on the same day, a police official told EFE on the condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, two militants and two security officers were killed in a separate battle that took place on Wednesday, taking the total death toll across the Jammu and Kashmir region to eight, in three days of fighting.

Anti-insurgency operations continue in the village of Gadool in the Anantnag district, where “intermittent exchange of firing between the government forces and the hiding militants continued yesterday” the official source told EFE, with the search for militants being resumed on Friday “after the first ray of sun.”

An Indian paramilitary soldier maintains vigil from his post in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 14 September 2023. EFE-EPA/FAROOQ KHAN

Government forces have surrounded a hill close to the village, situated in a forest area, suspecting that the insurgents are hiding there.

“The area is being thoroughly searched after a militant hideout was discovered and destroyed yesterday,” the police officer said.

The two militants believed to be surrounded now have been identified as members of Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, including Uzair Khan, a local from Gadool.

The military also issued a statement on the operation, saying two or three militants could be hiding in the area.

As the fighting continues, locals have been forced to seek refuge in nearby villages, with constant gunfire and explosions ringing out in the entire area since Wednesday.

“We heard deafening blasts throughout the day yesterday amid continuous firing,” Amin, a local resident, told EFE, after managing to leave Gadool on Wednesday before the situation worsened and taking shelter at a friend’s house in a nearby village.

“We can only hear firing and see armored vehicles of the army, this is what we all know about the gunfight going on in our village,” another terrified local told EFE, refusing to divulge their name.

The separatist insurgency in Kashmir – active for more than three decades – had been relatively subdued since the government of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi seized direct control of the region in August 2019 and scrapped its semi-autonomous status.

Since then, hundreds of suspected separatists and militants have been jailed and a strong surveillance system has been put in place to “check anti-national activities.”

The three officers killed on Wednesday in the Anantnag gunfight included Indian Army Colonel Manpreet Singh, Major Ashish Dhonchak, and Deputy Superintendent of Police Humayun Bhat, marking the highest-level officers killed in insurgent violence since 2009. EFE