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Four killed in Kashmir firefight near border with Pakistan


The Indian army said Monday its soldiers killed four suspected rebels who attempted to cross into the Indian-administered part of Kashmir at the unofficial border dividing the disputed territory with Pakistan.

The shootout happened late Sunday evening when soldiers guarding the border known as the Line of Control (LoC) intercepted four armed men in Keran, 140 kilometres northwest of the main city of Srinagar.

“The four infiltrators were killed in an exchange of fire. Their bodies and four weapons have also been recovered,” Indian army spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, told AFP.

The incident came after a day of violence in Kashmir, where a local election was marred by clashes that left eight civilians dead and nearly 100 injured, many from bullets fired by police and paramilitary forces.

In response, shops and schools were closed Monday and public transport suspended as separatist leaders opposed to India’s military presence called for a two-day strike.

Authorities, fearing more protests, suspended most internet services across the restive Kashmir valley for a second day.

Another round of voting is due in the state’s south Wednesday, but there have been appeals for the poll to be delayed amid a record low turnout in the weekend ballot.

Sunday’s election drew a little over seven percent of registered voters to the ballot box — the lowest ever record in any elections in the territory.

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

Rebel groups in Indian Kashmir have for decades battled troops and police, demanding independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan.

Around 500,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in the region.

The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead since 1989.

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