Three militants, two civilians killed as violence spreads in Kashmir

Indian security forces killed three separatists, while suspected militants shot dead two people on Wednesday, one of the bloodiest days in Kashmir since New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s autonomy more than two months ago.

The killings were the first since mobile phone services were restored as part of a gradual relaxation of measures taken to curb violent unrest in Jammu and Kashmir state, claimed in whole by India and Pakistan and ruled in part by both.

The government had cut off telephone and internet lines before it revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special rights on Aug. 5, striking down long-standing constitutional provisions for the Muslim-majority region.

A security lockdown is still largely in place and broadband and mobile internet connections remain unavailable to most Kashmiris.

The three militants were killed in a gun battle after soldiers, acting on a tip-off, raided a village in south Kashmir, two police sources told Reuters.

“Three terrorists were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of the encounter,” Kashmir police said in a statement. “Incriminating material, including arms and ammunition, was recovered.”

Neither the soldiers or police suffered casualties, according to the police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Security forces imposed travel restrictions near the site of the gun battle to prevent unrest, the sources said. Many Kashmiris hostile to India’s rule often gather to throw stones at security forces after militants are killed.

In a separate incident in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, suspected militants shot dead a migrant worker from Chhattisgarh state, in central India, in an execution-style killing, police said.

The brick kiln laborer was walking along a railway track in the Kakapora area when he was stopped by two people. “He was shot in the head,” a police official said, declining to be named.

In another incident, a fruit merchant was killed and another critically wounded when gunmen fired at them in the Shopian district of south Kashmir.

(Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari in Srinagar; Writing by Alasdair Pal and Manoj Kumar; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie)