Security forces yesterday killed seven militants who they said belonged to Pakistan-based groups during four gunbattles in Kashmir — the highest number of clashes in a single day in recent years.
Police said the militants belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohamed (JeM).
The JeM claimed a suicide attack last month that killed 40 paramilitary troopers in Kashmir and brought the two nations to the brink of their fourth war.
India has since stepped up an offensive against separatist militants in the mountainous region that both countries claim in full but rule in part.
Pakistan denies giving material support to militants in Kashmir but says it provides moral and diplomatic backing for the self-determination of Kashmiri people.
Since the attack on February 14, Indian authorities say 22 militants have been killed in Kashmir.
Three of the gun battles, one in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district bordering Pakistan, started on Thursday.
In one of the clashes, police said two Lashkar militants killed a 12-year-old boy they had taken hostage before being gunned down themselves.
“Despite repeated requests by community members and police for his release, he was brutally killed by the terrorists,” a police statement said
A police spokesman said the militants were from Pakistan and had been active in the region, attacking troops and harassing civilians.
Entire neighbourhoods in Kashmir often march towards sites of gun battles between rebels and government forces, attempting to rescue militants.
Scores of civilians have died during such clashes
Authorities yesterday imposed restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles in parts of Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir state’s summer capital, after separatists called for protests against the death in custody of a man who was detained by police for suspected links with militants.
Rizwan Asad Pandit, a chemistry graduate who taught at a private school, according to his family, had been arrested as part of a “terror case investigation”.
Police said he had been trying to escape and inquiries were being carried out into the cause of his death.
His brother, Zulkarnain Asad Pandit, rejected the police claims and said he had been tortured in custody. The family claimed Rizwan’s bones and even his spine was broken and that his body bore cuts and clear signs of torture.
Authorities yesterday also banned another separatist organisation in Kashmir, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.
Its chairman Yasin Malik was jailed this month under a law that allows for suspects to be held for up to two years without charge.
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