By Zahid Rafiq
SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir
Indian forces on Tuesday killed four militants in Kashmir’s south, an official statement said.
“Bodies of four militants have been recovered so far from the site of the gun battle in Shirmal village in Shopian district. Identities of the militants are yet to be ascertained,” India’s Central Reserve Police Force, a paramilitary force, said in a statement.
However, police in the region confirmed the killing of only three militants.
Local media reports suggest that one of the slain militants is believed to be Shamsul Mengnoo, whose brother is a high-ranking police official posted in India’s northeast.
According to the reports, people took to the streets after the killings in Shopian district, with Indian forces opening fire on the protestors wounding several people including six journalists, who were hit by pellets.
“We wanted to cross the road and displayed our cameras to the Indian forces. Two of us were wearing vests that had clear ‘PRESS’ signs on them. Despite that, they fired pellets at us,” Waseem Andrabi, one of wounded journalists and a photographer for Indian newspaper Hindustan Times, told the media.
The killings came a day after three other militants were killed in Budgam district in central Kashmir on Monday.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.