At least four Indian soldiers, including an top officer, and one civilian have been killed in a gunfight with rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir, just days after a suicide bomb attack that killed at least 41 paramilitary officers in the disputed territory.
Local officials said the battle occurred early on February 18 in Pinglan area of Pulwama and that another solider was also critically injured in the shootout.
India media reported that the gunfight broke out when the local branch of the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) fired on security forces.
Indian media said a search was under way to track the militants, but the fate of the attackers was not immediately known.
Pulwama area is the district where a suicide bomber killed at least 41 Indian paramilitary police officers in Kashmir on February 14 in the deadliest attack in decades on security forces in Kashmir and sparking outrage across India.
The JeM claimed responsibility for the attack on a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force on Jammu and Kashmir's main highway, local news reports said.
India Today television said security forces believe the latest attackers might have links to the February 14 bombing.
Tensions rose sharply with neighboring Pakistan following the suicide bombing.
New Delhi demanded that Pakistan “stop supporting terrorists and terror groups” who use Pakistan as a base and “dismantle the infrastructure operated by terrorist outfits to launch attacks in other countries."
Pakistan said the suicide bombing was of “grave concern,” but it denied having any involvement in the deadly attack.
India has long accused Pakistan of supporting militants in Muslim-majority Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between the two nuclear archrivals but claimed in full by both since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.