Kashmir clashes: Eight dead as troops surround gunmen
At least eight people have died in Indian-administered Kashmir during and after a gun battle between the security forces and militants, officials say.
The violence began when security forces entered a village in the southern Kulgam district overnight on Saturday in pursuit of suspected militants.
The exchange of fire killed two security force members, four suspected militants and a civilian.
Another man died in protests that followed the clash.
The suspected militants had taken refuge in Frisal village when they were surrounded by police and the military, officials say. A 10-hour gunfight then broke out.
Military officials quoted by NDTV said that the gunmen were members of the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba militant groups who were holding a meeting when they came under attack. Three militants escaped, the officials said.
Weapons were recovered from the dead gunmen, the army said. It stated that three soldiers were injured in addition to the two soldiers who were killed.
Officials say the civilian who died was inside the house which came under fire from the security forces.
As news of the clash spread, hundreds of local protesters confronted the security forces. One man died and about 12 were injured when the security forces opened fire on the crowd.
There has been a surge in militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir in the past year.
In September militants stormed an army base and killed 19 Indian troops - while in November Pakistan said at least nine people were killed when cross-border shelling from the Indian side of the disputed territory hit a passenger bus.
Both countries accuse each other of violating a 2003 truce accord.
Five things to know about Kashmir
- India and Pakistan have disputed the territory for nearly 70 years - since independence from Britain
- Both countries claim the whole territory but control only parts of it
- Since 1989 there has been an armed revolt in the Muslim-majority region against rule by India, which is mostly Hindu
- Two out of three wars fought between India and Pakistan centred on Kashmir
- A new war could be even more disastrous as both states now have nuclear arsenals