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SRINAGAR: An Indian soldier, a counterinsurgency police official and a suspected militant were killed in a gunfight on Tuesday in India-held Kashmir, police said, triggering anti-India protests and clashes.
The fighting began early on Tuesday when militants attacked raiding government forces with gunfire in a forest in the southern Tral area, police said. In the initial battle, a policeman and a soldier were killed.
Authorities rushed reinforcements of police and soldiers and cordoned off the area, sparking fierce exchange of gunfire in which a militant was killed, police said.
As news of the fighting spread, anti-India protests and clashes erupted in Tral town. Scores of youths, mainly students, hit roads while chanting slogans in favour of militants and demanding an end of Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region.
They threw stones at patrol parties of police and paramilitary soldiers, who fired tear gas to quell the protests.
In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with militants and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations.
A new generation of Kashmiri fighters, especially in the southern parts of the disputed region, has revived the militancy and challenged New Delhi’s rule with guns and effective use of social media.
Kashmiri militants have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding that their region be made part of Pakistan or become an independent country.
Most Kashmiris support the militants’ cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.