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Kashmiri Rebels Killed By Indian Soldiers Despite Aid From Villagers

Hundreds of protesters clashed with police and Indian soldiers in Kashmir after two suspected insurgents opposed to Indian rule died in a gunfight, officials said on June 30.

Fighting erupted in the Pulwama area south of Srinagar after police investigated reports that militants were hiding there. Upon being discovered, the two militants hurled grenades and shot at Indian soldiers before they were shot dead, officials said.

During the shootout, villagers poured onto the streets, pelting government forces with stones in what police said was a bid to help the militants escape.

Two police were injured in the clashes as they fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Both India and Pakistan claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety since it was partitioned between the rivals in 1947.

Rebel groups demanding independence for Kashmir or a merger of the territory with Pakistan have for decades fought Indian troops in the disputed region.

Increasingly, residents of the restive region have come out in crowds to support rebels during their frequent gun battles with government forces.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting since 1989.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP