SRINAGAR, India — At least five suspected militants and an Indian air force commando were killed Saturday in a fierce gunbattle in disputed Kashmir, police said.

Indian troops cordoned off northern Hajin village on a tip that militants were hiding in civilian homes, said top police officer S.P. Vaid.

The militants tried to escape from the security cordon while firing their guns, triggering a heavy exchange of gunfire, Vaid said.

At least five militants and an air force commando were killed and another soldier was wounded in the fighting, he said, adding that at least one militant was still trapped in the area.

No rebel group fighting since 1989 for Indian-controlled Kashmir’s independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan commented on the fighting.

The gunfight is the latest in a string of deadly shootouts between Indian forces and rebels in restive Kashmir. At least 170 rebels and 60 government soldiers have died in the violence this year.

Earlier Saturday, thousands of residents in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar participated in the funeral of a local militant who police said was killed overnight in a shootout with troops.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both countries claim it in its entirety. Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the region, and most people support the rebels’ cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.