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One soldier injured as forces fight rebels in Kashmir, claims India

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SRINAGAR: India said on Monday its forces battled a group of suspected rebels inside a government compound in the held part of the Kashmir valley.

Army and paramilitary soldiers cordoned off an Indian compound close to the main highway after gunshots were heard near saffron-rich Pampore town in the outskirts of the region’s main city of Srinagar on Monday, claimed police.

Speaking on condition anonymity, an officer alleged that units of Indian army’s Special Forces, paramilitary soldiers and counterinsurgency police encircled a building in the extensive compound where suspected militants were believed to be hiding.

The officer said the rebels exchanged gunfire with the Indian soldiers and occasional grenade explosions were also heard from the site. One soldier was reported injured in the initial fighting.

The scenic valley of Kashmir has been under a wave of valence, worst since 2010, after Indian forces killed a popular separatist leader, Burhan Wani, during a gunfight in July this year.

The protests and a sweeping military crackdown have nearly paralysed daily life in Indian-held Kashmir.

More than 100 civilians have been killed and thousands injured, with hundreds among them blinded and maimed, mostly by Indian forces firing bullets and shotgun pellets at rock-throwing protesters. Thousands have been arrested since the unrest began.

Since then shops, schools and most banks have remained shut and authorities have suspended mobile phone internet services.

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

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, where rebel groups have fought Indian troops since 1989 for either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

The tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours has soared after a militant attack last month on an Indian army base killed 19 soldiers, with the two exchanging heavy fire and mortars across their de facto border in Kashmir almost every day.

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