Four militants, a policeman and a civilian were killed during a gunbattle in Anantnag district in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday morning, according to police and health officials.
Hospital authorities said around 20 civilians were also wounded by Indian forces’ gunfire near the clash site in Srigufwara village in Anantnag district.
“Bodies of four militants have been retrieved so far. Unfortunately, we lost one of our policemen in the gunbattle,” Shesh Paul Vaid, chief of the police in the region, told the media.
The civilian killed in the gunfight was the owner of the house where the militants were said to be hiding. His wife too received bullet injuries and was rushed to the hospital.
Soon after the gunbattle started, eyewitnesses said young men from neighbouring villages came out to protest against the Indian forces and to provide an opportunity for the trapped militants to escape. Over a dozen civilian protesters were wounded in the firing by the Indian forces.
One of the slain militants is believed to be from capital city Srinagar, leading the government to suspend cellular internet in the region. Train services were also suspended.
Meanwhile, Governor NN Vohra, who took over the reins of the region just two days ago, called for an all-party meeting to discuss the future of the state.
Jammu and Kashmir is at present under the direct control of Indian central government.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan. According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.