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Six killed in Kashmir in one of deadliest days since autonomy revoked

SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Four Indian security forces and two militants were killed in related incidents in Kashmir on Monday, in one of the deadliest days in the disputed Muslim-majority region since its autonomy was ended last year.

Kashmir Police Chief Vijay Kumar told Reuters that militants attacked a security checkpoint north of the main city of Srinagar in the morning and killed one local policeman and two officers from the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force.

In a counter operation by security forces, two militants were shot down while a soldier also died, Kumar said. Monday’s total death toll was the third highest in such violence in the valley in the past year.

Two policemen were killed in a militant attack on Friday.

This month Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan, marked one year since New Delhi revoked its constitutional autonomy, inflaming religious tensions. Kashmir has been disputed by India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both countries claim it in full but rule it in part.

Many people saw the move as another step in the erosion of Muslim rights by India’s Hindu-nationalist government. New Delhi rejects that argument and says it will bring the region closer to the rest of the country.

Kumar added that security forces averted a major attack on Monday morning when they recovered an improvised explosive device planted under a bridge in Pulwama district south of Srinagar.

In recent weeks, militants have also intensified attacks on village council members and other leaders in Kashmir. Five have been shot dead in the past three months, prompting police to move 1,000 village leaders to high-security zones.

Many of those attacked belong to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Grant McCool

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