Suspected Kashmir rebels kill Indian air force corporal

Suspected Kashmir rebels kill Indian air force corporal
Suspected Kashmir rebels kill Indian air force corporal

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A supporter of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC) party attends the election campaign rally of their candidate Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi (not pictured) in Srinagar on May 3, 2024, ahead of the third phase of voting of India's general election. — AFP pic

SRINAGAR, May 5 — An Indian air force member was killed and four more injured when suspected rebels ambushed a military convoy in Indian-administered Kashmir, an official statement said, as campaigning for national elections continues in the disputed territory.

The convoy was attacked by an unknown number of armed militants who sprayed automatic rifle fire towards at least one air force truck in the mountainous Poonch area, 200 kilometres south of the main city of Srinagar, the air force said in a statement.

Five air force personnel were hit in the firefight late Saturday and “one Air Warrior succumbed to his injuries later”, it said, identifying the dead man as a corporal.

A neighbouring constituency took part in the first phase of India’s general election on April 19, and Poonch voters were originally scheduled to cast their ballots this week but the Election Commission of India has postponed the polling to May 25 because of inclement weather in recent days.

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Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947, with both claiming the high-altitude territory in full but administering it in parts.

Since 1989, rebel groups opposed to Indian rule have waged an insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir, demanding either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

The conflict has left tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and militants dead.

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Rebel activity in the territory has registered an uptick since last month as campaigning for the elections picked up in the restive region.

In April, three suspected rebels were killed and a police officer and three soldiers wounded in three separate clashes across the territory.

Violence has drastically dropped since 2019, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked the region’s limited autonomy and stepped up a security chokehold.

Voting in India’s six-week-long national election, which started last month, will end on June 1. — AFP

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