SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

Two Indian paramilitary soldiers were shot dead by militants in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, police said.

The deceased were manning a checkpoint on the outskirts of the capital Srinagar when they were targeted by two or three militants, according to police.

One of the soldiers died on the spot, while the other was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.

The incident came a day after Indian forces gunned down two militants in Kane Mazar, a densely populated area of Srinagar.

Four Indian security personnel were injured in the gunfight, which lasted more than eight hours.

Among the deceased was Junaid Sehrai, son of pro-Pakistan and pro-freedom leader Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai.

Junaid, who had a master’s degree from Kashmir University, joined the militancy in March 2018.

Five houses were destroyed and 10 more damaged in the shootout.

Mukhtar Ahmad, a local resident, told Anadolu Agency that his house was damaged in the hours-long gunfight.

Ahmad said he was beaten and harassed by soldiers before the operation and they also took away 63,000 Indian rupees (about $830) – his father’s pension for several months – from his house.

“They were asking me where the militants were hiding. How would I know? I told them I can only be sure about my own household and there’s no one in my home,” he said.

Several other residents also accused Indian government forces of stealing valuables during the gunfight.

However, a paramilitary official, who requested anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said all such allegations were baseless.

Authorities also blocked cellphone and internet services on Tuesday.

Phone connections were later restored but internet remained shut until Wednesday evening.

Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971– two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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