Srinagar (India) – Suspected rebels killed two police officers and a civilian Wednesday in an ambush in Indian Kashmir a day after prime minister Narendra Modi visited the disputed region, police said.
The attack occurred late in the evening when a senior police officer travelling in his official vehicle along with two other officers was fired up on from both sides of the road in Galander, just outside Srinagar, the region’s main city.
“The civilian and a policeman succumbed to their injuries,” a police statement said.
“The other policeman died in the hospital later,” a police officer who declined to be identified, as he was not authorised to speak to media, told AFP.
He said four to five attackers who had laid the ambush fled the scene and government forces were on a hunt for them.
Since 1989 fighting between Indian forces and about a dozen rebel groups seeking independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by a heavily militarised defacto border known as the Line of Control or LoC since 1947 when the two nations won independence from Britain.
Both administer the divided territory separately but claim it in full.
Wednesday’s attack followed another in the same area two days earlier when suspected rebels attacked a Border Security Force (BSF) vehicle injuring seven paramilitaries as Modi was preparing to visit the disputed territory.
Violence has significantly declined in the region since India and Pakistan began a peace process in 2004, but sporadic rebel attacks on government forces are routine and residents have complained of human rights abuses by an estimated half a million Indian troops deployed in the territory.
A federal minister informed Indian parliament recently that around 200 rebels are active in the territory now.
The latest attack came as Indian Kashmir is on high alert as India prepares to celebrate its independence day on Friday.