July 1, 2017 / 11:04 AM / 2 months ago

Security forces kill top militant, aide in Kashmir gun battle

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Indian security forces shot dead a top Islamist militant who was accused of killing six police officers during a seven-hour gun battle in the disputed Kashmir region on Saturday, police and army officials said.

Bashir Ahmad, alias Bashir Lashkari, was on India's most-wanted list and had a one million rupee (about $15,500)-bounty on his head. Ahmad killed six police officers in an ambush in the southern Anantnag district last month, the officials said.

Another militant, who police named as Azad Malik, was also killed during Saturday's joint army and police operation in Dailigam village, part of Anantnag.

Two civilians were also killed in the clash and 17 others, who had been trapped inside a house with the militants, were rescued, a police spokesman said.

Lieutenant Colonel Rajesh Kalia, an army spokesman based in Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar, said the two dead militants belonged to the Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

India accuses Pakistan of training and arming militants, and helping them infiltrate across the de facto border, called the Line of Control, dividing Kashmir. Pakistan denies those allegations.

The South Asian rivals fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.

($1 = 64.6150 Indian rupees)

Writing by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Helen Popper

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