Indian forces killed during gunfight in Kashmir
At least five Indian soldiers and two militants have been killed in a gunfight that took place in the Indian-administered Kashmir, local police reported. A further seven soldiers have been reportedly injured.
Police officials state that the militants entered a closed public school in the Bemina area under the guise of playing cricket. They then opened fired on the adjoining Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp, triggering a gunfight between the two sides.
According to reports: “The attack was sudden and CRPF personnel were caught unaware while militants hurled hand grenades and fired in all directions with their AK-47s.”
The militants do not appear to be locals and officials have suggested that they are possibly from Pakistan.
Kashmir’s Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, has condemned the attack calling it a “fidayeen” (translated roughly into “suicide militants”) attack. If this is the case, the incident will be the first suicide attack in Kashmir since January 2010.
In a telephone call to a local news agency, a spokesperson from the Hizbul Mujahideen group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it was a “guerrilla attack” carried out by a special squad formed for the purpose and has threatened similar attacks in future.
No students and teachers were reported to be injured as the school was closed because of the ongoing strike in the wake of the February execution of a Kashmiri militant Afzal Guru, a convict in the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, who was hanged and buried in New Delhi on 9th February 2013.
Kashmir’s Police Chief , Shiv Murari Sahai, said: “The separatists are demanding Afzal’s body and since his death the valley has seen severe protests against government soldiers. Over 600 soldiers have been injured and more than 500 government vehicles damaged.”
Over a dozen separatist groups favouring independence and a merger with neighbouring Pakistan have been fighting Indian troops since 1989. However, since Afzal Guru’s death Kashmir has been hit by violent anti-India protests as people believe Afzal did not receive a fair trial.