Policeman, rebel killed in Indian Kashmir fighting

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A policeman and a militant were killed in a gunbattle in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday, as shops and businesses remained closed in the disputed region to protest the killing of two people by the army.

Paramilitary spokesman Kishore Prasad said soldiers and police cordoned off a home in Mandoora village in southern Kashmir, acting on a report that suspected rebels were hiding there.

Prasad said the insurgents attacked troops with grenades and gunfire. Two soldiers were wounded in the gunbattle.

In Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, schools and colleges were shut and shopkeepers closed their stores for a strike called by separatists to protest the killing of the two by the army on Sunday in the northern village of Markondal.

The killings led to massive anti-India protests and clashes that spread to nearby towns that left five government troops injured on Sunday.

Police have registered a case of murder against the army. Army authorities have separately said they will investigate the incident and expressed grief over the killings.

Rights groups say such investigations rarely lead to prosecutions and are mainly used to try to calm public anger.

On Monday, authorities ordered a curfew in the village and towns of Sumbal and Hajan to prevent protests.

However, hundreds of Kashmiris defied the curfew and marched in Hajan and torched an army-run school while chanting slogans such as “We want freedom,” said a police officer on customary condition of anonymity.

There were no students in the school because of the curfew and strike.

Anti-India feelings run deep in Indian Kashmir, where nearly a dozen rebel groups have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. About 68,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The rebel groups have largely been suppressed by Indian troops in recent years, and resistance is now principally expressed through street protests.

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