BY SHAH ABBAS (Associated Press)
SRINAGAR–Jammu and Kashmir: Rebels fighting Indian rule in Kashmir stormed a paramilitary camp early Tuesday and at least two suspected militants and a border guards officer were killed and three soldiers injured in the attack, police said.
An unspecified number of militants attacked the heavily guarded camp outside the airport in the region’s main city of Srinagar, hurling grenades and spraying automatic gunfire, said top officer S.P. Vaid. He said soldiers were responding to the militants’ gunfire.
A police officer said two suspected rebels and a paramilitary officer had been killed in the fighting so far. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.
The officer said the militants wearing military uniforms entered a building inside the camp after breaching multiple layers of high security outside and inside the camp while exchanging intense gunfire with government forces.
He said troops encircled the building where at least one more militant was hiding.
The camp houses a battalion of India’s Border Security Force and only barbed wire separates it from the Srinagar airport, which is controlled and run by the Indian Air Force. The camp has previously been a notorious interrogation center where suspected rebels and their sympathizers would be detained, questioned and allegedly tortured.
Officials said the airport, which is on a plateau and encircled by military and paramilitary camps, was safe. However, authorities suspended the airport operations for about four hours. At least one early morning flight from New Delhi was canceled and three others delayed due to the fighting.
Authorities said normal flight operations had resumed at the airport around noon and passengers were boarding flights.
Residents in the neighborhood said they heard dozens of blasts early Tuesday and intermittent gunfire was still ongoing. Besides being a highly guarded security zone because of the location of the strategic airport, many top former bureaucrats, police officials and politicians have residences in the area.
Reinforcements of counterinsurgency police and paramilitary commandos rushed to the scene and armored vehicles dotted the entire road leading to the airport.
No anti-India rebel group immediately commented on the fighting.
India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir to be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most people support the rebels’ cause. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.