Clashes between Indian government forces and suspected militants left at least nine people dead and several others were wounded in the Pinglena area of Pulwama district (Jammu and Kashmir state) on Monday, February 18. The fighting reportedly broke out after the government forces encircled a suspected militant hideout in the area and began combing it for insurgents; at least four troops, three suspected militants, a civilian, and a police officer were killed. Local media reports claimed that the insurgents were affiliated with the Jaish-e-Mohammad group. The incident comes amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, and increased intercommunal tensions within India, following a February 14 militant attack in Kashmir, claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammed, that left at least 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers dead.
Similar security operations and clashes between Indian security forces and suspected militants are to be expected in Kashmir over the near term. Public demonstrations are possible in Kashmir and in India along with associated transportation disruptions; violence and looting cannot be ruled out.
Suicide bombers detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in Pulwama district (Jammu and Kashmir state) on February 14, killing at least 40 Indian paramilitary officers. The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack and India has accused Pakistan of supporting the attackers. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in India since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Separatists have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989. Some 70,000 people have died and many more have been injured in related violence, uprisings, and military crackdowns. Recently, the Indian government has conducted several security operations in the region amid rising tensions and sporadic violence.
Individuals in Kashmir are advised to remain vigilant for militant activity and Indian government security operations, refrain from discussing sensitive political topics in public or on social media, avoid all demonstrations due to the risk of violence or arrest, and adhere to all instructions (e.g. curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, etc.) issued by local authorities and their home governments.
As a reminder, some Western governments advise their citizens against travel to parts of Kashmir, notably including areas along the Line of Control (LoC), due to the significant risk of violence.
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