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Kashmir hotel standoff leaves 10 dead

Kashmir hotel standoff leaves 10 dead

Security forces battled Islamic militants holed up in a hotel in the heart of Indian Kashmir's main city Thursday, leaving two policeman and two insurgents killed a day after five other officers died trying to storm the building.
Police also found the body of an unidentified civilian after the shooting ended midday Thursday. Officials declared the nearly 27-hour standoff over after troops secured the hotel in Srinagar's Lal Chowk area, said Police Director General Gopal Sharma.
"The operation is over," Sharma said. "We are clearing the debris."
As the shooting ended, nearly 60 Kashmiri youths took to the streets in the area and chanted anti-India slogans _ "Down with India!" "We want freedom!"
Police fired tear gas and chased them away with bamboo sticks. No injuries were reported.
The standoff began at noon Wednesday, when gunmen at the hotel opened fire at a building on a nearby paramilitary base, Ahmed said.
Police besieged the hotel and tried to storm it after several hours, but were unable to dislodge the gunmen.
Three officers were killed in the initial assault, one died later and the body a fifth officer was found Thursday, said Sanjiv Sharma, a commander of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force.
Two policemen were killed in Thursday's final assault along with two militants, Sharma said.
Thirteen other people, several of them civilians, were reported wounded in the fray.
At nightfall Wednesday, police had called off their attempted assault and took up positions around the hotel, Ahmed said.
Throughout the siege the gunmen and forces exchanged gunfire and lobbed grenades at each other, forcing shops and businesses in the central market area to shut down.
Ahmed said his forces were hampered in their attempt to get the suspects because they were restricted to using light arms, fearing that heavier weapons could set the hotel on fire.
The local Current News Service on Thursday quoted a man who identified himself as Amir Mir, and claimed to be a spokesman for the Kashmiri militant group Al-Mansorian, as saying that three of its men had carried out the hotel takeover.
Two of them were killed by security forces and the third escaped, the news agency quoted Mir as saying.
Anti-India sentiment runs high in Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, where most people favor independence from Hindu-majority India or a merger with mostly Muslim Pakistan.
Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan, but both countries claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety.
More than a dozen Islamic rebel groups have been fighting security forces in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir since 1989. At least 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have died in the conflict.


Updated : 2021-05-08 01:09 GMT+08:00