Indian soldier, three rebels die in Indian held Kashmir shoot-out


SRINAGAR, INDIA: An Indian soldier and three suspected rebels died in a shoot-out along the de facto border that divides occupied Kashmir with Pakistan early Thursday, the army said.

Soldiers deployed along the heavily militarised frontier known as the Line of Control (LOC) shot and killed the three suspected rebels when they tried to cross into Indian-occupied Kashmir from the Pakistan side.

One soldier also died in the exchange of fire, the army said in a statement.

The deaths came a day after Indian soldiers killed three insurgents as they tried to cross into the territory.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of arming insurgents and pushing them across the LoC to launch attacks on its forces.

Islamabad denies the allegation, saying it only provides diplomatic support to Kashmiris seeking self-determination.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the territory in its entirety.

Rebel groups have for decades been fighting the around 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence from India or a merger of the Himalayan region with Pakistan.

Armed encounters between rebels fighting against Indian rule of Kashmir and soldiers have become more frequent since last July when security forces killed a popular rebel commander.

Officials say dozens of youths have joined the ranks of the rebels, who enjoy renewed public support.