Bodies were found during a search for militants 140 kilometres northwest of the main city of Srinagar
SRINAGAR: Suspected rebels killed three soldiers during firing overnight near the heavily militarised border dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, an army spokesperson said on Monday.
Soldiers discovered their colleagues’ bodies on Monday morning during a search for militants in Hafruda forest, 140 kilometres northwest of the main city of Srinagar.
“We had three fatalities. The soldiers came under fire during the night,” army spokesperson colonel N N Joshi told AFP.
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Joshi said an armed militant was also killed in a separate encounter in the nearby valley of Lolab overnight.
On Sunday two suspected rebels, whom the Indian army claimed belonged to the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad group, were killed during a gunbattle in Tral area south of Srinagar. A soldier was injured in the encounter.
Several rebel groups have for decades been fighting hundreds of thousands of Indian forces deployed in the region, seeking independence for the territory or its merger with Pakistan.
India often accuses Pakistan of training and arming rebels, while Islamabad says it only provides diplomatic and moral support for the Kashmiri people’s struggle for self-determination. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict, mostly civilians.
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week proposed a new peace initiative with India over Kashmir, suggesting demilitarisation of the disputed territory, after a surge in cross-border shelling.
The firing has killed dozens of civilians since last year.