Three soldiers, one militant killed in Kashmir shootout

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SRINAGAR — At least three paramilitary soldiers were killed and an equal number injured Wednesday when suspected militants launched an attack on a key highway in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said.

Sanjay Sharma, spokesman for India's paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) told AFP that at least two car-borne militants attacked a foot patrol with automatic weapons, killing three members of the force.

He said one attacker was killed in retaliatory fire, while another managed to escape.

A senior police official speaking on condition of anonymity said a local police officer was also critically injured in the attack.

The attack was carried out along a sensitive road in the south of the territory which is used by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visiting a Hindu cave shrine in the Kashmir Himalayas.

Eight pilgrims were killed after suspected militants attacked their vehicle in 2017.

The annual pilgrimage begins July 1.

Gun battles between the militants and Indian government forces are frequent, and this year over 100 rebels have been killed in the armed clashes so far.

Several armed rebel groups have fought for three-decades some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the restive territory which is also claimed by Pakistan.

They enjoy widespread public support with many residents either seeking independence or a merger of the former kingdom with Pakistan.

Rights groups say the fighting has left more than 70,000 dead so far, mostly civilians.

New Delhi regularly accuses Pakistan of helping the rebels with arms and ammunition, an accusation Islamabad denies.

 Agence France-Presse

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