SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Five rebels were killed in fighting with government forces in disputed Kashmir on Sunday, the Indian army said, triggering anti-India clashes in which at least 10 civilians were injured.
The fighting began after Indian government forces cordoned off a village in the Himalayan region's southern Kulgam area following a tip that militants were hiding there, said Col. Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for the Indian military in Kashmir. The searches led to an exchange of gunfire in which five militants were killed, he said.
The fighting sparked protests and clashes as hundreds of residents tried to march to the site of the battle in solidarity with militants. The protesters were chanting pro-rebel slogans and demanding end of an Indian rule over the region.
Government forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the protesters, who threw stones and snowballs at them. At least 10 civilians were injured and were taken to hospitals, medics and local residents said.
India and Pakistan each claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989 and civilian street protests are common.
Most Kashmiris support the rebel position that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.