Indian troops gun down 11 ultras in J&K

Associated Press

Srinagar, May 6:

Soldiers killed six suspected Islamic militants in a two-day gunbattle in Indian-controlled Kashmir, the army said today, and five other militants were killed in fighting elsewhere in the region.

The two-day shootout took place in Khaiyar, a remote shepherds’ village surrounded by forests about 70 km north of Srinagar, the capital of India’s Jammu-Kashmir state, said army spokesman Lt Col VK Batra.

The soldiers, acting on a tip, cordoned off the village and raided the militants’ suspected hideout on Wednesday, triggering a gunfight. Six unidentified suspected militants were killed, Batra said.

But Kashmir’s largest rebel group, Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen, claimed in a statement that 14 of its operatives had been killed in the two-day long battle. The statement signed by the group’s spokesman, Junaid-ul-Islam, was faxed to a local news agency, Kashmir News Service, and it included names and addresses of the rebels it said were slain.

Batra said authorities had only recovered six bodies so far. “Two houses caught in the crossfire are still smouldering and we don’t know if there are any more bodies,” he said. In separate gunbattles, five more rebels were killed overnight, he added without giving details.

Meanwhile, suspected rebels hurled a grenade at a security force post in the town of Sopore, north of Srinagar, injuring two soldiers and two pedestrians, a police officer said on condition of anonymity.

Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen is one of more than a dozen militant groups that have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. At least 66,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict.