Three Indian soldiers and a woman have been killed in a suspected militant attack on a military convoy in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
The troops were returning from a search operation on Thursday when unidentified armed men opened fire on their convoy in the region’s Shopian district, wounding six soldiers and killing a woman on the spot, said a police spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Three of the wounded soldiers succumbed to their injuries later on “at the army hospital in Srinagar.”
The spokesperson added that the woman, who lived near the area where the ambush occurred, had been hit by a stray bullet.
The Shopian district was where a popular pro-independence leader, Burhan Wani, was killed in a gun battle with Indian troops last July. The incident sparked months of anti-India unrest in the territory, which left nearly 90 civilians and several policemen dead and thousands of people injured. Sporadic clashes have continued since then.
The incident and the subsequent unrest have also strained the ties between Pakistan and India, both of which have been laying claims to the entire Kashmir but control parts of it since their partition and independence from Britain in 1947.
Human rights groups accuse India of using indiscriminate force against protesters in Kashmir.
India claims it has been fighting armed groups supported by Pakistan in the Himalayan region over the past decades. People there have been seeking independence or a merger with Pakistan. The fighting has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, mostly of civilians.
New Delhi blamed Pakistani-backed militants for a raid on an army base in Indian-controlled Kashmir last September, which killed 19 soldiers. Islamabad denied any role in the attack.
In late October last year, New Delhi ordered one employee of the Pakistani High Commission out of the country, saying he was a suspected spy. Islamabad expelled an Indian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move. The development has further deteriorated the two countries’ bilateral ties.
India has so far deployed tens of thousands of troops to Kashmir to curb the pro-independence bid and restore order and security to the region.