The Indian army killed six rebels during a two-day gunbattle in Indian-administered Kashmir, which was believed to be an attempt by militants to disrupt elections in the region, a spokesman said Wednesday.
An Indian soldier was also killed in the fighting, which started on Tuesday when militants crossed the heavily fortified border with Pakistan. “A junior commissioned officer and six infiltrators were killed in the operation, three of them yesterday,” said army spokesman S. D. Goswami. Four other soldiers received minor injuries during the battle that has now ended in the snowy and mountainous Naugam sector, he said.
The army said the battle was fought at an altitude of more than 14,000 feet “with [the] likely aim of terrorists to disrupt elections” which are ongoing in the region. “A major infiltration bid foiled by army,” the army also tweeted. “Terrorists equipped with latest winter clothing and accessories.”
Another attack on Wednesday injured five policemen and a civilian. Militants threw a grenade at a paramilitary police patrol in the village of Puhu in Pulwama district, a local police officer said on condition of anonymity. Four paramilitaries, another policeman and a civilian were hurt.
Voting took place on Tuesday in the tense Muslim-majority region for the staggered state election. The Hindu nationalist party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is for the first time campaigning hard to win the poll. Turnout has so far been high as voters defy calls by hardline separatists to boycott the election over India’s rule of the region.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the two countries won independence from Britain in 1947, but both claim the picturesque territory in full. About a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or for a merger of the disputed territory with Pakistan. The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians dead.