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Police: Indian forces kill 62 militants this year in disputed Kashmir

Indian security forces have killed 62 militants, including 15 foreigners, in the disputed Jammu & Kashmir region this year, a senior police official said on Sunday.

Kashmir, claimed by India and Pakistan but ruled in parts by each country, has long been the site of an armed insurrection against New Delhi. Two of the three wars between India and Pakistan have been fought over Kashmir.

India, which says it seeks to keep Islamist militant groups from expanding their base, accuses Pakistan of funding militant groups who want independence for Indian-administered Kashmir, a claim Islamabad denies.

The state’s police chief, Vijay Kumar, said some of the militants killed this year had links with Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group that has in recent years allegedly recruited and trained men to fight Indian authority in Kashmir.

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A hallmark of the group is to conduct “fedayeen” attacks where men are willing to fight to the death but are not suicide bombers.

Kumar said 15 militants linked with the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad – which took responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in Indian Kashmir in 2019 – were among those killed in a series of operations.

“The surviving rate of militants has drastically decreased due to enhanced human, technical intelligence and focussed operations,” Kumar told Reuters.

Members of Hizbul Mujahideen, one of the largest anti-Indian Kashmiri militant groups, were also among those killed, he said. He said 193 militants were killed in 2021 and 232 in 2020.

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Broad search and detention operations by Indian forces are common in the region, which has had an armed resistance movement since 1989.

Rights groups say arbitrary detentions and killings by Indian troops are leading to a range of human rights violations.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019 withdrew Indian-ruled Kashmir’s autonomy in order to tighten his grip over the territory, provoking outrage in Pakistan.

The decision, the most far-reaching political move in one of the world’s most militarised regions in nearly seven decades, polarised opinion, with Kashmiri leaders calling it aggression against the state’s people.

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