Five Kashmiris were killed in fighting with government forces in occupied Kashmir on Sunday, reports said, triggering anti-India clashes in which at least 10 civilians were injured.
The fighting began after Indian government forces cordoned off a village in the Himalayan region’s southern Kulgam area. Exchange of gunfire was reported in which five armed Kashmiris were killed.
According to the Kashmir Media Service, a search operation was jointly carried out by the personnel of Indian army’s 9 Rashtriya Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force and Special Operation Group of police. A house was also destroyed by Indian troops during the aggression by Indian forces.
It said the deceased Kashmiris were identified as Waseem Bashir Rather, Zahid Parray, Idrees Butt, Aaqib Nazir, and Pervez Butt.
The Kashmir Media Service also reported that mobile phone and Internet services were suspended in the district. Train services have also been suspended in south Kashmir, it said.
The fighting sparked protests and clashes as hundreds of residents tried to march to the site of the clash in solidarity with the Kashmiri fighters. The protesters were chanting slogans and demanding end to India’s occupation of the region.
Indian forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the protesters, who threw stones and snowballs at them. At least 10 civilians were injured and were taken to hospitals, medics and local residents said.
In-Depth: The pursuit of Kashmir
Kashmiris have been fighting Indian control since 1989 and civilian street protests are common.
Most Kashmiris support the position that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.
Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal issued a strongly worded statement on Twitter to condemn the killings.
“The snow in #IOK bleeds red. #Pakistan strongly condemns the continuing Indian state terrorism & martyrdom of 5 innocent Kashmiri boys by Indian occupation forces in the inhuman so-called #CASO in #Kulgam today #Kashmirbleeds,” he tweeted on behalf of the FO.
He termed the incident as a “senseless Kashmiri massacre” and expressed regret that India continues to “flout all norms of justice” despite years having passed since the conviction and execution of Kashmiri fighters Afzal Guru and Maqbool Butt.