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Indian troops kill six militants in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Indian troops on Sunday killed six separatist militants in a gun battle in the disputed region of Kashmir, the army said, as its forces stepped up operations in one of the bloodiest weeks of fighting this year during which 23 people have been killed.

The six militants were shot dead by troops in a village south of Srinagar in an operation launched early on Sunday, Indian army spokesman in Kashmir, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said. One soldier was also killed in the operation.

The bodies of the militants and ammunition were recovered from the site of the operation, he said.

Locals in the area clashed with Indian troops, pelting them with stones after the operation, while the troops retaliated by firing tear gas, pellets and live ammunition, said a police official, who was not authorized to speak to media. One person died and another was critically wounded.

The operation capped one of the bloodiest weeks in the region this year, during which 16 militants and two soldiers were among 23 people killed.

So far this year, 411 people have been killed in Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state. More than half were guerrillas fighting Indian rule. It is the highest toll since 2008 when 505 people died.

Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari; editing by Richard Pullin