AFP: Eleven dead as gunfight sparks protests in Indian Kashmir: police15 December 2018 | 11:29 | FOCUS News Agency
The fight broke out in the southern Pulwama area in Indian-administered Kashmir where the militants were hiding, a police officer said.
Three separatists - including a soldier who had joined the rebels - were killed in the fighting, which also left a member of the security forces dead, senior police officer Swayam Prakash Pani told AFP.
While the gunfight was in progress, hundreds of villagers poured out on the streets and shot at the house, shouting slogans in support of the militants and throwing stones at the troops, witnesses said.
"It was mayhem, six protesters died in the ensuing firing by soldiers," a police officer told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Hospital officials said a seventh man died later of bullet injuries.
Saturday's bloodshed capped the deadliest year in the region since 2009, with nearly 550 killed so far 150 civilians, according to a monitoring group.
Security officials say some 230 activists have been killed this year, most of the locals from the Kashmir Valley, but rebel groups have recruited new members at a matching pace.
Popular support for the rebels and their cause has grown since the killing of a charismatic activist leader in 2016.
Villagers, sometimes in their thousands, have been swarming sites of gun battles with government forces to help militants escape from military cords.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of the British colonial rule over the subcontinent in 1947. Both claim the disputed Himalayan territory in full.
Rebel groups have fought for more than 500,000 Indian troops deployed in the territory of New Delhi, seeking Kashmir's independence or its merger with Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have died in the fighting since 1989, mostly civilians.
New Delhi regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training rebels to launch attacks on Indian forces, an allegation Islamabad denies saying it only provides political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris fighting for the right to self-determination.
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