Two suspected rebels and a civilian were killed in a shoot-out with government forces in southern Kashmir, police said Friday, sparking fresh unrest after months of deadly violence. The battle broke out when soldiers and police surrounded a house around 45 kilometres south of the main city of Srinagar on Thursday after receiving a tip off that suspected rebels were there.
"We have recovered two bodies of the militants from the site of the encounter. Their weapons were also found there," deputy inspector general of police for the area, Nitish Kumar told AFP. A police statement said a "stray bullet" had killed one civilian, whose death sparked angry protests in the area.
Hundreds of villagers had marched towards the village where the shoot-out occurred on Thursday, shouting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans and hurling stones at the government forces to try to help the militants escape.
At least 45 protesters were injured as police and paramilitaries fired tear gas shells and pellet guns to disperse them, a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to journalists.
Mass protests against Indian rule broke out in July after soldiers killed a popular rebel leader, but have largely subsided following a major security crackdown.
More than 90 civilians and two policemen were killed and thousands were injured in clashes with government forces.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 and both claim the Himalayan territory in full.
Rebels groups have for decades been fighting 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the region, demanding independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan.
Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting, most of them civilians.