Srinagar: Indian soldiers shot dead two suspected rebels Thursday during a pre-dawn skirmish in Indian-administered Kashmir, army officials said, days after killing a top militant commander in the disputed territory.
Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said soldiers and special forces police surrounded a home in northern Nathipora village, where they engaged in gunfire with militants hiding inside.
“Two terrorists were killed in the operation and their two weapons were also recovered,” Kalia said.
The shootout comes amid renewed tensions and fresh protests against Indian rule in the territory following the death of top rebel commander Sabzar Bhat last Saturday in a gun battle with soldiers.
Authorities imposed a three-day curfew in large parts of the Kashmir valley following Bhat’s death, and closed schools and colleges in many districts.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 but both lay claim to the entire territory.
Rebel groups have fought for decades roughly 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or a merger of the former princely State with Pakistan.
The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.
Younger Kashmiris have been increasingly joining rebel ranks since the shooting death of a popular militant commander in July last year.
More than 30 militants have been killed by Indian soldiers since then, prompting more frequent clashes between rebels and government forces.