SRINAGAR (AFP) – Clashes between independence-seeking fighters and Indian forces as well as street killings left six more dead in Indian Kashmir Saturday, officials said, as the disputed Himalayan region battles a worsening wave of violence.
At least 28 people, including nine civilians, have been gunned down in the past two weeks -- the victims of a deadly resurgence in a three-decade-old unrest in the Muslim-majority region, which is also claimed by Pakistan.
Saturday saw two from The Resistance Front (TRF) group killed outside the main city of Srinagar, police inspector general Vijay Kumar said.
One of them was top independence-seeking commander Umer Mushtaq Khanday, Kumar added.
Hours later, gunmen shot dead a street vendor and a laborer from outside Kashmir in separate shootings, police said.
Two soldiers also died in a “fierce firefight” near the highly militarized ceasefire line between Indian and Pakistani controlled Kashmir, a military statement said.
They had been involved in a week-long hunt for the fighters that had already seen seven troops killed in the forested border area of Mendhar.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947 and an independence-seeking movement that erupted in 1989 has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
Tensions have mounted again since the Indian government annulled Kashmir’s semi-autonomy in August 2019 and put it under direct New Delhi rule.
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Kashmir’s chief Muslim cleric who has been under house arrest for more than two years, warned in a statement Saturday that “systemic oppression” was pushing many Kashmir youths into the underground.