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Militants break cordon as Indian-controlled Kashmir violence claims 5

Indian army troopers gather near the site of a gunfight in village Khudwani of Kulgam district, 59 km south of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.
SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir (Xinhua) -- At least four civilians and one trooper were killed during the daylong clashes between government forces and militants in restive Indian-controlled Kashmir on Wednesday, officials said.
The clashes were triggered during a gunfight between militants and joint contingents of Indian police, paramilitary and army at village Khudwani of Kulgam district, about 59 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.


Police said a trooper was killed and two others wounded fighting the two holed-up militants, who finally managed to break off the cordon after 18 hours and escaped due to support of local residents.
“During the daylong clashes, four civilians were killed,” a police official said. “A trooper was also killed and two others wounded fighting the militants.”
Health officials said over 65 people were wounded after government forces fired warning shots, pellets and dozens of tear smoke shells to chase the protesters.
Officials said the village was cordoned off on the specific intelligence information suggesting presence of two militants. However, a gunfight triggered immediately after that.
Police said while the gunfight was underway, local youth thronged the gunfight site in a bid to break military cordon and help militants escape.
Reports said two residential houses were completely damaged, while three others suffered partial damage during the gunfight between government forces and militants.
Authorities have suspended internet in the twin districts of Anantnag and Kulgam, fearing it would mobilise people to come on roads and stage protests against the government.
The domestic train service from Banihal to Srinagar passing through the area has also been suspended.
A spontaneous shutdown was observed in Anantnag and Kulgam in wake of the gunfight and civilian killings.
The region’s separatist groups have called for a shutdown on Thursday against the civilian killings.
Reports of protests and clashes poured in from several places of the region. Police fired tear gas to stop students from marching in Srinagar.
A senior separatist leader Mohammed Yasin Malik was detained while he tried to stage protests against the killings in Srinagar. Two other separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have been put under house arrest.
Indian-controlled Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has expressed grief over the Kulgam killings.
“The Chief Minister said there is an urgent need to get together to get Jammu and Kashmir out of this vicious cycle of violence and killings,” a government spokesman said.
Earlier this month, gunfights and subsequent clashes between militants and government forces left 13 militants, three troopers and four civilians dead, with 150 civilians injured in adjacent Shopian district.
Militant groups are engaged in a guerilla war with Indian troops in the region since 1989. Gunfight between the two sides takes place intermittently.
Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan, is claimed by both in full. Since their independence from Britain, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.

(Latest Update April 13, 2018)

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