Fighting between suspected Muslim militants and Indian troops in a forest area of Indian administered Kashmir has entered its fourth day on Sunday. The violence close to the line of control has claimed seven lives, including three security personnel.
Fighting between Indian security forces and suspected Muslim militants resumed at dawn Sunday after a night-long break. The violence began on Thursday, when Indian troops attacked suspected militant hideouts in a mountainous forest area near Mendhar in Poonch district of Indian administered Kashmir.
The area is close to the line of control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Officials say four militants have been killed in the fighting so far while two troops and a special police officer have also been killed.
The special police officer Naresh Kumar was the last to die on Saturday. The Indian wire agency Press Trust of India quoted unnamed officials as saying that up to ten militants were hiding in the area including some top commanders of two to three Muslim militant groups. It reported that heavy fog and low visibility were prolonging the encounter.
S. N. Acharya, an army spokesman in Jammu, said the exact number of militant was not known.
"The Encounter at Chattral area in Batidhar forests is still on. The Exact number [of militants] I don't have, but there may be a group of militants," said S. N. Acharya.
It is one of the longest skirmishes in recent months, and the first since the legislative elections in Indian administered Kashmir held in November and December.
The elections saw over 60 per cent turnout despite a boycott call by Kashmiri separatists, who argued that the polls strengthen India's hold over the disputed region.
The Kashmiri government is expected to assume office on Monday, when Omar Abdullah, a third generation politician, will take over as the chief minister of Indian administered Kashmir.