3 militants killed in gun battle in Kashmir

By Zahid Rafiq

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir (AA) – Three militants were killed in a daylong gun battle in Budgam district in central Kashmir on Monday, the Defense Ministry said.

Ministry spokesman in Kashmir Col. Rajesh Kalia confirmed the three killings and said that the gun battle was still going on.

The identities of the three slain militants have not been confirmed yet.

According to officials in the police department, Indian forces including the army, the paramilitary and the police started a cordon and search operation on Monday in the Hapatnar forests of Chrar-e-Sharief area of Budgam.

Jammu and 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.