Officials announced on Thursday that five Indian soldiers were killed in clashes with rebels fighting against Indian rule in the disputed region of Kashmir. The Indian army also reported that two suspected militants were killed in the fighting.
The clashes began on Wednesday after Indian troops were deployed to search for militants in dense forests following intelligence that at least two rebels were hiding there. An anonymous military official stated that intermittent firing continued throughout the day on Wednesday, resulting in four soldiers being killed and at least two others injured.
The army posted on X, formerly Twitter, that rebels were injured in the fighting and were surrounded by Indian troops, but did not specify the number of militants involved.
The clashes continued on Thursday in the southern Rajouri district, near the Line of Control that separates Indian and Pakistani-controlled areas of Kashmir. Another Indian army officer, who spoke anonymously, confirmed that two suspected militants and a soldier were killed in the fighting, with one of the militants being identified as a Pakistani national and a trained sniper.
Among the five Indian soldiers killed, two were officers from a special forces unit, according to the military official. There has been no independent confirmation of the clashes.
Kashmir is administered by both India and Pakistan, with both countries claiming the entire region. Militants in the Indian-controlled part have been fighting for independence or to join Pakistan since 1989, with many Kashmiris supporting these goals. However, New Delhi insists that the militancy in Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, while most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle.
Tensions in Kashmir have increased since 2019, when India revoked the region’s semi-autonomous status and imposed severe restrictions on civil liberties and media freedoms. A militant group called the People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF) claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s clashes, stating that they have been active mainly in the high mountainous forests of the Rajouri and Poonch areas.
Government forces had also carried out operations last week resulting in the deaths of seven militants, and two months ago, a major gunbattle in Anantnag killed three Indian soldiers, including a commanding officer, his deputy, and a police officer.