Four killed in rebel attack in IOK

A day-long gun battle Saturday left at least four dead in Indian-administered Kashmir as freedom fighters stormed a police facility in a predawn attack, police said. 

The freedom fighter detonated grenades and fired automatic assault rifles to gain entry to the police headquarters in southern Pulwama district which also houses families of some officers, director general of police S.P. Vaid said.

One police officer was killed in the initial assault and three paramilitary troops were injured who were evacuated to a nearby hospital, he said.

“Two more CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) soldiers died” in pursuit of the attackers, Vaid told AFP.

Inspector general of police Muneer Ahmed Khan told AFP that the firing had stopped but officers were continuing to hunt for two of the three attackers.

“One freedom fighter was eliminated and we are looking for the other two,” he said.

“Two of our SPOs (Special Police Officers) are missing. They are feared dead,” he added.

All the families in the compound were evacuated and the militants had taken no hostages, police said in a statement.

Authorities cut off mobile internet services in the district to prevent residents from organizing anti-India protests as a tactic to help the fighters escape.

In recent months, residents, sometimes entire villages, have increasingly hit the streets and thrown stones at soldiers when rebels are trapped in military cordons to help them escape.

Security forces fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators after sporadic protests broke out close to the police facility, an officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Government forces have stepped up counterinsurgency operations since the start of the year and have killed at least 136 rebels, including most of the top commanders of rebel groups operating in the disputed territory.

Kashmir has been divided between Indian and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the territory in full.

Rebel groups have for decades fought the more than 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the restive territory, demanding independence or a merger of the former Himalayan kingdom with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting. (AFP reported)