By ASSOCIATED PRESS
SRINAGAR: A young man was killed and two others wounded Tuesday when government forces fired at anti-India protesters in disputed Kashmir following a gunbattle that killed one militant, officials said.
Indian troops cordoned off the southern Kokernag area on a tip that rebels were hiding there.
Senior police officer S.P. Vaid said troops gunned down one militant but at least one other escaped while injured during the fighting.
As the fighting raged, anti-India protests erupted in Kokernag and some neighboring villages in solidarity with rebels fighting against Indian rule, leading to clashes between rock-throwing residents and government forces who fired bullets, shotgun pellets and tear gas.
At least three were reported injured in the clashes and a young man who was hit by bullets died in a hospital.
In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants.
The anti-India protests and clashes have persisted despite the Indian army chief warning recently that “tough action” would be taken against stone throwers during counterinsurgency operations.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety.
Rebel groups demand that Kashmir be united, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the region, and most people support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.