Feb. 12 (UPI) — Seven people died — four militants, two soldiers and a civilian — during a 12-hour gun battle in Indian-controlled south Kashmir’s Kulgam district that ended Sunday morning.
Police were fired upon while conducting searches in Nagbal Frisal village after learning militants were in the area.
The four militants, all residents of Kashmir and in their 20s, belonged to the rebel group Hizbul Mujahedeen, said Sridhar Patil, the police chief of Kulgam district. He said they had outstanding criminal charges, including murder and stealing arms from security forces.
“First we tried to convince them to surrender with the help of locals and family members,” Patil said to The New York Times.
Three soldiers were injured during the battle.
A confrontation later erupted between Indian security forces and large crowds of local youths who gathered to mourn the dead militants.
Security forces fired bullets at protesters, injuring at least 21 people, one of whom later died, according to Dr. Abdul Majid, the medical superintendent of the district government hospital at Anantnag.
According to top army sources, seven terrorists had met at a house. Security forces struck the hideout and three managed to escape. The man whose house was attacked was the civilian who died.
Insurgents in Kashmir have sought independence from India for nearly three decades.