Indian police kill two Kashmiri youths

Indian police kill two Kashmiri youths

NEW DELHI (AFP): Indian police said on Wednesday they had killed two suspected youths in Kashmir, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the disputed territory.

The clash erupted in a residential area of Kashmir’s northern Sopore region.

It is the latest violence in an uptick of militant attacks in the troubled Indian-administered territory.

“Two suspected youths have been killed in the encounter,” India’s Kashmir police said on social media. “Incriminating materials recovered.”

Modi is expected to arrive on Thursday in the region’s main city Srinagar to inaugurate development projects.

He is also due to lead thousands in celebrations for International Yoga Day on Friday.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from British rule in 1947, and the rivals have fought three wars for control of the territory.

Freedom fighters seeking liberation from Indian authorities have waged an insurgency since 1989, demanding independence for the Muslim-majority territory or its merger with Pakistan.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers, and rebels.

Clashes between freedom fighters and soldiers have drastically reduced since 2019 when Modi’s government revoked the limited autonomy of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

India regularly accuses Pakistan of supporting and arming the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies.

This month, a gunman opened fire on a bus carrying Indian pilgrims returning from a Hindu shrine in the southern Kashmir district of Reasi, killing nine and wounding dozens.

The attack took place around an hour before Hindu nationalist Modi was sworn in for a third term in the capital New Delhi.

It was one of the deadliest in years and the first on Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir since 2017 when gunmen killed seven people in another ambush on a bus.