Source Pravda.Ru

Army officer and rebel killed in 16-hour long clash in Kashmir

An army major and a suspected guerrilla were killed in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir during a fierce 16-hour long gunbattle that ended Friday, the army said. Soldiers raided the village of Nathipora on Thursday after receiving a tip that suspected guerrillas were hiding there, triggering the fire-fight, said army spokesman Lt. Col. V. K. Batra.

The battle continued through the night and ended early Friday after soldiers killed a suspected rebel hiding in one of the homes in the village, said Batra.

Batra said that soldiers were carrying out house-to-house searches looking for more rebels.

Two other soldiers were wounded, he said, identifying the slain army officer as Maj. Gopi Rathore.

Nathipora is a remote village about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir.

A dozen-odd rebel groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. The separatist insurgency has killed more than 66,000 people.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, a Himalayan region divided between the them, since their independence from Britain in 1947, the AP reminds.

A year-old thaw in relations has seen the restoration of severed transportation links, diplomatic ties and a series of negotiations to resolve the Kashmir dispute. The South Asian rivals have also stepped up cooperation in the wake of the Oct. 8 earthquake that devastated the region.

T.E.

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