May 16, 2019 15:19 UTC
  •  Five killed in fierce gunbattle in Indian-controlled Kashmir

Five people, including three Kashmiri fighters, an Indian soldier and a local civilian, have been killed during a gunbattle between militants and government forces in the Indian-administered Kashmir.

Police said the gunfight started in the early hours of Thursday after a search operation was launched in Dalipora, a village in south Kashmir. Three militants, including a Pakistani commander, and an Indian soldier, were killed.

Villagers said a civilian, who they identified as Rayees Ahmad Dar, was also killed after Indian troops had sent him to search a house where militants were believed to be hiding.

A police spokesman said Dar had been killed in indiscriminate firing by militants, and denied he had been sent on a search.

Following the clashes, villagers threw rocks at security forces who responded with teargas, while lawyers in the state’s high court went on strike in protest at Dar’s death. 

In response to the killings, Kashmir’s main separatist political group, the Joint Resistance Leadership, called for a general strike in the Muslim-majority region on Friday.

“Even in the holy month of Ramadan there is no letup in killings and bloodshed in Kashmir as civilians, armed youth or even Indian forces are getting killed,” the statement read.

Separately on Thursday, police said seven people had been detained and a curfew imposed on a town in the region after a Muslim man transporting horses was shot dead, allegedly by a Hindu group wanting to protect the rights of cows, an animal considered sacred in their religion.

Witnesses said he was one of the three men confronted overnight by the group on the outskirts of Bhaderwah town.