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Deadly clashes as rebels storm army base in Kashmir

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At least two suspected rebels have been killed and three soldiers wounded in Indian-controlled Kashmir after fighters stormed a paramilitary base, according to local officials.

The attack began in the early hours of Tuesday when three fighters raided the highly-guarded Border Security Force (BSF) camp outside a regional airport in Humhama, some 17km from the area’s main city of Srinagar.

The operation against the fighters continued into the afternoon as hundreds of police, paramilitary and army personnel surrounded the area.

“The operation is still on,” Munir Khan, Kashmir police chief, told Al Jazeera.

“Two militants have been neutralised and we are searching for the third one. Three BSF personnel have also been injured in the attack,” he added.

Flights to and from Srinagar International Airport were initially suspended after the attack, but were resumed later on Tuesday.

“The flights are continuing and one flight has just landed in the airport from Delhi,” Khan said.

Locals residing close to the airport said they had been woken up by the sound of heavy gunfire.

“Initially, we thought it is the usual airdrop that happens around the army camps here,” Qazi Anjum, who lives 100 metres away from the airport, told Al Jazeera.

“But it continued intensely for a long time, after which we panicked and came to know that it is an attack.”
Anti-India sentiment

Rebel groups have been fighting for decades for the Indian-administered portion to become independent or merge with Pakistan.

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Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep among Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population and most support the rebels’ cause against Indian rule.

India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

The latest attack comes amid a major counterinsurgency offensive by the Indian army in south Kashmir districts. More than 130 rebels have been killed by the military this year, according to officials.

In August, suicide attackers stormed a highly-guarded police installation in the southern part of this disputed territory, killing four policemen and four paramilitary personnel.

Last year, armed rebels attacked an army base near the frontier town of Uri, killing 18 soldiers.

[Source: Al Jazeera News]
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