SRINAGAR, Oct 11, (Asia Free Press): At least five Indian soldiers including an officer have been killed during a clash with armed rebels in disputed Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Monday.
The Indian soldiers came under attack when they were carrying house to house search in the Poonch area of Jammu region, a local police official told Asia Free Press on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak with media.
So far five soldiers have been killed and several other wounded, the official said.
Army Spokesman Lt Colonel Devender Anand also confirmed the clash and said, “one Junior Commissioned officer and four Jawans of Indian Army sustained critical injuries during the anti-terror operation in Poonch, J&K today.”
“They were rushed to the nearest medical facility where they succumbed to injuries,” the Spokesman said.
Situation in disputed territory is tensed from last one week following unknown assailants shot three Hindus and a Sikh person in the Srinagar city last week.
Following Hindus’ killing, Indian forces launched operation in the area and so far arrested over 1,000 innocent Kashmiri people.
“Mostly young people including college and school students have arrested by army,” the police officer confirmed.
Local police say the attackers were associated to The Resistance Front, or TRF, a militant organisation which claimed to have shot and killed seven people since last week, pushing up the death toll from such attacks this year to 37 people. While 30 of those slain were Muslims, seven of them belonged to Hindu and Sikh minority communities.
Local Kashmiris accused the Indian intelligence agency Raw for carrying out such attacks to blame local Kashmiris and initiating action against them.
“RAW has shifted RSS goons to Kashmir and using for these attacks to pave way for operation against local population,” a local resident of Srinagar said.
He spoke on condition of anonymity as Indian forces strictly barred the locals to speak with media as even the local journalists have been banned from independent reporting in the region.
The clash has been the deadliest since the announcement of ceasefire in February this year between Indian and Pakistan and may result in heightened tensions and increased escalations between the two countries.
The Indigenous Kashmiri rebel groups have been fighting for Independence from the Indian occupation since last 3 decades. The unilateral annulment of the semi-autonomous status of the erstwhile state in August 2019 and the subsequent lockdown imposed by Indian authorities led to an uneasy calm. The calm has been defied by indigenous rebel groups by carrying out attacks on the non-locals who were given domiciles or were allegedly working for the Indian intelligence agencies.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has strongly condemned the arrest of over 1400 Kashmiris on false charges which in one of the biggest crackdowns since the August 5 2019 mass arrests in the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir.
“These arbitrary arrests and detentions by Indian Occupation Forces are prime example of India’s state-terrorism and trampling of fundamental human rights in IIOJK”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The foreign ministry further said that the recent surge in extra-judicial killings, staged cordon-and-search operations and arbitrary arrests in Kashmir are a source of serious alarm for the international community.