3 suspected rebels, 1 officer killed in Kashmir fighting

3 suspected rebels, 1 officer killed in Kashmir fighting
Indian police man a checkpoint near a gunbattle site on the outskirts of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 30 August 2020

3 suspected rebels, 1 officer killed in Kashmir fighting

3 suspected rebels, 1 officer killed in Kashmir fighting
  • Since January, government forces have killed about 180 militants during counterinsurgency operations

SRINAGAR, India: Three suspected rebels and a counterinsurgency officer were killed in a gunbattle on the outskirts of Indian-controlled Kashmir’s main city, police said Sunday.
An Indian soldier was also killed in Pakistani firing along their frontier in the disputed region, an army spokesperson said.
Police said the three militants Saturday night fired at a checkpoint in the outskirts of Srinagar in a failed bid to snatch a rifle from a paramilitary soldier.
Police and paramilitary soldiers later traced them hiding in a civilian home, the region’s police chief, Dilbagh Singh, told reporters. In the subsequent fighting, which lasted the whole night, a counterinsurgency officer and the three attackers were killed, he said.
Singh said that among the three slain militants, one was active for about a year. He didn’t give details about the other two.
In the last two days, seven suspected rebels and an Indian soldier were killed in two separate gunfights.
Since January, government forces have killed about 180 militants during counterinsurgency operations, according to the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a rights group. Based on official figures, data shows that over half of them had joined the rebels less than a year ago, and out of them most had been active for only a few months.
At least 68 government forces and 46 civilians have been killed since January, the rights group said.
Meanwhile, an Indian soldier was killed early Sunday when Pakistani soldiers targeted some Indian frontier post along the highly militarized frontier that divides Kashmir between the two rivals in southern Rajouri district, said Lt. Col. Devender Anand, an Indian army spokesperson.
Anand called the Pakistani firing a violation of the 2003 cease-fire accord between the two countries and said Indian soldiers retaliated. Pakistan did not immediately comment. In the past, each country has accused the other of initiating the firing and violating the cease-fire agreement.
India and Pakistan claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel cause that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.


Charity rescue ship carrying 373 African migrants docks in Sicily

The Ocean Viking ship seen from the Italian island of Lampedusa, Sicily. (AFP/File Photo)
The Ocean Viking ship seen from the Italian island of Lampedusa, Sicily. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 1 min 55 sec ago

Charity rescue ship carrying 373 African migrants docks in Sicily

The Ocean Viking ship seen from the Italian island of Lampedusa, Sicily. (AFP/File Photo)
  • The Ocean Viking vessel had been waiting in heavy swells to get clearance from authorities
  • Many migrants recounted stories of alleged abuses suffered in Libya

ROME: A charity rescue ship carrying 373 migrants picked up off the Libyan coast has been allowed to dock in the Italian port of Augusta, in Sicily.

The Ocean Viking vessel had been waiting in heavy swells to get clearance from authorities for its passengers to disembark.

The migrants — who included 165 children of which 21 were aged under four — had been plucked from four packed dinghies and were mostly from south Saharan countries in Africa. They had told rescuers they were fleeing from camps in Libya where they feared for their lives.

Many recounted stories of alleged abuses suffered in Libya, with some having already attempted sea crossings to Europe only to be intercepted and transported back to the Libyan camps.

One of those rescued, Kylian, 19, from Mali, told Arab News: “In Libya we were all crammed into one home and we weren’t free to go where we wanted. I was out when bandits came, and I wanted to run to warn the others in the camp. When they fired, I fell to the ground. They thought that I was dead, and they just left me there.”

The man said he was wounded but could not access medical care in the camp. “I thought I was going to die. This happens all the time in Libya. I was finally treated because a friend took me to a Cameroonian woman who was doctor.”

The teenager was speaking on the phone of a volunteer from the maritime humanitarian organization SOS Mediterranee. All the migrants will be transferred to a quarantine ship after being tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Luisa Albera, rescue coordinator on the Ocean Viking, told Arab News: “From the survivors, we have heard gruesome tales of the inhumane treatment they had to endure in Libya.

“The last three days at sea have been extremely hard for those people, as the weather has worsened rapidly. Several babies and small children were on board; they have particularly suffered from seasickness.”

She pointed out that more than 1,200 people had died last year while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

“We are relieved that the 373 people on board our ship managed to reach a safe port, but the international community must do more to save people in the Mediterranean. Too many lives depend on this.

“EU member states must find a sustainable solution and set up a rapid disembarkation mechanism, supporting European coastal states such as Italy and Malta and working to respect international maritime law on our common coasts to the south,” Albera said.

Prior to the Ocean Viking being given permission to dock in Augusta, a heavily pregnant woman was taken from the ship to the Italian island of Lampedusa by an Italian coastguard vessel.

Italy has repeatedly impounded charity vessels for safety violations, a policy that charities claim is often a tactic to keep them from performing rescues.

The Ocean Viking is currently the only charity ship operating off Libya’s coast, although Libyan coastguard ships are also patrolling, assisted by the EU, and have intercepted 300 migrants and returned them to Libya this month.