Indian army vehicles leave after the site of a gunbattle in Shopian, south of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Friday, April 9, 2021. AP
Government forces killed five suspected rebels, including a teenager, in gunfights in Indian-controlled Kashmir, police said Sunday.
The back-to-back clashes began late Saturday after troops cordoned off two villages in southern Kashmir's Shopian and Bijbehara areas on intelligence that anti-India militants were hiding there, police said.
Three militants were killed and two soldiers wounded in Shopian, Inspector General Vijay Kumar told reporters, and said troops recovered a rifle and a pistol from the site.
One of the slain militants was a teenage boy who, according to officials, had joined rebel ranks few days earlier. Kumar said several attempts were made to seek the trapped militants' surrender but they refused.
Indian forces killed two more militants in the second clash in Bijbehara, Kumar said.
At least 15 militants, a policeman and an army soldier have been killed so far this month.
In a surprising decision last month, India and Pakistan agreed to reaffirm their 2003 cease-fire accord along the de facto frontier dividing Kashmir between the two sides. However, a crackdown by Indian forces and attacks by rebels have continued inside the Indian-held portion.
Both countries claim the divided territory in its entirety. Many Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.