Rebels Kashmir

Security personnel during cordon and search operations after two policemen and four militants were killed in a gunfight between security forces and militants in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district, March 21. (IANS photo)

SRINAGAR — Government forces have ended a two-day operation against rebels fighting against Indian rule in disputed Kashmir in which 10 combatants died, officials said March 22.

Troops cleared explosives from a remote forested village in northwestern Kupwara region where fighting began early March 20 and ended overnight, police said.

Five government troops, including three soldiers and two counterinsurgency police, and five suspected insurgents were killed in the fierce fighting.

Speaking at wreath-laying ceremony for a slain police official, Inspector-General S.P. Pani said the operation was difficult because of the thick vegetation and mountainous terrain. He said the slain militants were intercepted after they had infiltrated into the Indian-held side of Kashmir from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

Pani also said evidence pointed to their allegiance to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group New Delhi blames for a 2008 attack that left 166 people dead in India’s commercial capital of Mumbai.

There was no independent confirmation of the police claim.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, which in recent years has seen renewed rebel attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule.

Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding Kashmir be made part of Pakistan or become an independent country.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.

Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

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