- Associated Press - Monday, September 24, 2018

SRINAGAR, India (AP) - Five suspected militants and a soldier were killed in two days of fighting near the highly militarized de facto frontier that divides the disputed region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan, India’s army said Monday.

Indian army spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia said the gunbattle erupted Sunday after a group of militants crossed from the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir into the Indian-held portion in the forested and mountainous northwestern Tangdhar sector. He said two rebels were killed on Sunday and three others and an Indian soldier died on Monday.

Kalia said soldiers recovered five bodies of militants with weapons and were still searching the area.

There was no independent confirmation of the incident.

On Friday, India called off a planned meeting between its foreign minister and her Pakistani counterpart on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York this month, aggravating tensions and leading to a war of words between the longtime rivals. India said its decision to pull out of the meeting, which had been announced just a day earlier, followed the killing of an Indian border guard and three policemen in Kashmir and Pakistan’s glorification of insurgents fighting Indian rule in the region.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety and have fought two wars over the Himalayan territory since they gained independence from British colonialism.

In Indian-controlled Kashmir, rebel groups have been fighting for either independence or a merger with Pakistan since 1989.

Most Kashmiris support the rebel cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

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