Four Indian soldiers died in a fierce battle with Kashmir militants on Monday just days after a suicide bomber killed at least 41 paramilitaries in the troubled territory, officials said.
The confrontation piled more pressure on the Indian government, which has blamed Pakistan for Thursday’s suicide attack on a paramilitary convoy that sparked widespread calls for action against the country’s neighbour and nuclear arch-rival.
Shooting continued for hours after military and police sources reported that four soldiers, two militants and a civilian were killed in Pulwama district, south of Srinagar, the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir.
An army major was among the dead, according to the Indian army. Police said another soldier and a civilian were critically wounded.
“The encounter is still on,” Colonel Rakesh Kalia, a military spokesman in Kashmir, told AFP.
Hundreds of soldiers raided villages and fired warning shots at a suspected militant hideout, unleashing the firefight in the village of Pinglan.
Some of the militants were believed to have escaped, police said, and government forces cordoned off other villages as they gave chase.
Government forces launched a massive hunt for militants after an explosives-packed van rammed a convoy transporting 2,500 security forces in Thursday’s assault.
The deadliest attack in Kashmir in 30 years was claimed by Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which said a local supporter was driving the vehicle.