Tensions in the disputed Kashmir region have escalated further after four Indian soldiers, three suspected militants, a police official and a civilian were killed during a gun battle.
The nine deaths come after a local Kashmiri militant rammed a van fitted with explosives into a paramilitary bus on Thursday, killing at least 40 soldiers.
The suicide bombing was the worst attack against Indian government forces in Kashmir’s history.
Security officials said the latest fighting broke out after government forces surrounded a village in the region of southern Pulwama, following a tip-off that militants were hiding out there.
Monday’s violence saw a senior police officer, an army officer and another three soldiers wounded.
Police said troops had come under heavy gunfire as they started conducting searches.
Residents reported troops destroying one house with explosives during the stand-off.
The bodies of two militants were recovered from the debris and a civilian was killed in the crossfire, according to police.
Among the soldiers killed in the gun battle was an Indian army major. One of the wounded soldiers is reportedly in a critical condition.
Anti-India protests and clashes followed the fighting, with residents – mainly young people – trying to march to the site of the stand-off in solidarity with the rebels.
Government troops fired tear gas at the protesters, who were reportedly throwing stones.
India has blamed Pakistan over Thursday’s suicide bombing as tensions continue to grow between the neighbouring nations.
New Delhi has promised a “jaw-breaking response” to the attack.
However, Pakistan has warned India not to link it with the bombing without an investigation and said it was part of New Delhi’s “known rhetoric and tactics” to divert attention from human rights violations in Kashmir.
Both India and Pakistan administer part of Kashmir but both sides claim the entire region belongs to them.
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