Indian troops kill rebel commander in Kashmir's main city

A rebel commander and his aide were killed in a gun battle with government forces in Kashmir's main city on Tuesday, officials said, triggering anti-India protests and clashes in the disputed region, SIA reports referring to AP.

The gun battle, the first in the city in two years, lasted about 12 hours and ended with the killing of Junaid Ashraf Sehrai, a militant commander with Kashmir’s largest rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen, and his aide. Junaid, son of senior separatist political leader Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, joined the rebel ranks in early 2018 after graduating in business management from the region’s main university.

Three soldiers and a police official were injured in the fighting, police said. At least six houses were severely damaged during the fighting as explosions and gunshots rattled the city during a tight coronavirus lockdown. Residents accused troops of setting the houses on fire and looting jewelry and cash from some homes.

Security officials said Junaid’s killing was a major success against militants in Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety. As the gun battle raged, authorities cut off most mobile internet and voice call services in Srinagar, a common Indian tactic when fighting erupts in the region. As news of the killings spread, scores of young men chanting anti-India and pro-rebel slogans defied the lockdown and hurled stones at government forces, who fired tear smoke and shotgun pellets to disperse them. No casualties were immediately reported.

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