SRINAGAR: An Indian army colonel was among four people killed during a gun battle outside the restive region’s main city of Srinagar, police said, the highest ranking military officer to die in fighting in the disputed Himalayan region in more than a year.
The colonel was leading an operation against suspected rebels in the Hundoora village, 50 kilometres south of Srinagar, when he came under fire. A policemen and two militants were also killed in the encounter, police superintendent Tahir Saleem said.
Tens of thousands of troops are deployed in the Indian side of Kashmir to put down the separation movement which began in 1989 and has weakened over the past several years. Different groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan. The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.
This month alone, 10 Kashmiris have been killed in violence. Violence has abated during the last decade but armed encounters between rebels and government forces occur regularly and resentment among the people of Kashmir against Indian rule is deeply rooted.
On January 15, government forces killed five suspected rebels during a gun battle in a forested area a few kilometres from the site of Tuesday’s encounter. The officer killed on Tuesday was the previous day awarded a gallantry medal for his service in Kashmir.
Security had been high in Kashmir and India’s other restive areas during the Obama visitand for Republic Day on Monday which marks the birth of modern India.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2015.
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