Curfew imposed after three rebels killed in Indian Kashmir

Wed, 2017-07-12 21:44

SRINAGAR, India: Authorities imposed a curfew Wednesday in parts of Indian-administered Kashmir after three rebels were killed in a firefight with government forces, police said.
The shootout overnight, west of the main city of Srinagar, comes amid high tension after suspected militants shot dead seven Hindu pilgrims and injured 19 others in the disputed Himalayan territory.
Soldiers and counterinsurgency police cordoned off a neighborhood in Redbugh village late Tuesday after learning about the presence of armed rebels in a house, a police officer said.
“After the night-long standoff, all three militants were killed when they tried to break the cordon,” the officer said on condition of anonymity.
“Their weapons and bodies have been recovered and identified as locals.”
Fearing residents could pour onto the streets for the funerals of the slain rebels, authorities imposed a curfew in parts of Srinagar and erected checkpoints and blockades along main roads.
Shopkeepers in Srinagar’s main commercial center Lal Chowk shuttered their businesses for the day.
There is no suggestion the shootout was linked to the attack on a bus shuttling Hindus on an annual pilgrimage to a Himalayan cave revered as the abode of the god Shiva.
Some officials have blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba, a pro-Pakistan militant group, for that attack but it has denied any role.
Jitendra Singh, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, said police and security forces were still carrying out investigations.
“No one should jump to any conclusion on the attack. Let us wait for the definite inferences and inputs,” he told reporters in Srinagar.
White House condemns attack on pilgrims
The White House is condemning as “cowardly” a deadly terrorist attack on religious pilgrims in India this week.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says an attack on religious freedom is an attack on the “most fundamental right of liberty.”
Spicer is offering condolences to the victims and families of Monday’s assault. He says the US and India will fight together against terrorist threats in every part of the world.
Warned of attack
Meanwhile, as India’s government blamed separatist rebels for gunning down seven Hindu pilgrims and wounding 19 more in Kashmir before fleeing into the night, rebel groups in the disputed region condemned the rare, deadly attack on civilians and insisted they had no part in it.
A memo that was circulated to regional police, military and paramilitary units two weeks ago indicates Indian security officials had been expecting an attack. The memo, marked “top secret,” warned that a “sensational attack by terrorist outfits cannot be ruled out” in the mostly Muslim region.
The memo, dated June 25 and verified as authentic by The Associated Press, said, “terrorists have been directed to eliminate 100 to 150 yatris (pilgrims) and about 100 police.”
It described circumstances eerily similar to what transpired Monday night: “The attack may be in the form of standoff fire on yatra (pilgrimage) convoy, which they (militants) believe will result in flaring of communal tensions throughout the nation.”

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