World Bulletin / News Desk
A top commander from the largest rebel group in Indian-occupied Kashmir was killed in a gun battle with government forces on Saturday, police said.
Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, head of the Hizbul Mujahideen rebel group, was killed in an overnight gunfight in Tral area, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Kashmir's capital, Srinagar.
Hizbul Mujahideen is the largest indigenous rebel group fighting against Indian-rule in the Himalayan territory since a armed rebellion broke-out in 1989.
One of Bhat's fighters was also killed in the gun battle, which erupted late Friday after government forces cordoned off a village following an intelligence tip-off.
"Yes, both of them were gunned down and the operation is still going on," police chief Shesh Pal Vaid told AFP.
Police said hundreds of villagers tried to break the cordon by throwing rocks at security forces, resulting in clashes that left at least 10 injured.
There were reports of violent clashes spreading to other parts of the restive valley in the aftermath of the commander's death.
Bhat succeeded charismatic militant leader Burhan Wani after he was killed in a gunfight in July, which triggered months of anti-India protests in which nearly 100 people died.
Wani's popularity grew after he used social media to attract new recruits for his militant outfit.
On Saturday, in a separate incident, the Indian army said they had killed six mujahideen who had infiltrated across the border from Pakistan in the Himalayan region.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the predominantly Muslim Kashmir valley, one of the world's most heavily militarised areas, where most people favour independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Several armed rebel groups are fighting against Indian rule, with tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, killed in the nearly three decades-old conflict.
Last Mod: 27 Mayıs 2017, 13:25