SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Assailants fatally shot two schoolteachers in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Thursday in a sudden rise in targeted killings of civilians in the disputed region, police said.
Authorities blamed militants fighting against Indian rule for the attack in the outskirts of Srinagar, the region’s main city.
Police said militants fired at a female teacher and her male colleague inside a government school from a close distance and later fled. Both died on the spot, police said. Government forces cordoned off the area and launched a search for assailants.
The victims were members of Hindu and Sikh minorities.
Thursday’s incident marks the seventh targeted killings in six days.
On Tuesday, gunmen shot and killed three men in separate attacks that police also blamed on militants. One of the victims was a prominent Kashmiri Hindu minority chemist while another was a street food vendor from India’s eastern state of Bihar. The third victim was a taxi driver.
Dilbag Singh, the region’s police director-general, said officers began an investigation into the killings and were working on “some clues and leads about the killers in previous cases.” He said the assailants would be arrested soon.
The killings were widely condemned by pro-India as well as anti-India politicians.
Kashmir has remained on edge after New Delhi in 2019 stripped the region’s semi-autonomy, scrapped its statehood and removed inherited protections on land and jobs. Authorities have since brought a slew of new laws, which critics and many Kashmiris fear could change the region’s demographics.
The Himalayan territory is divided between India and Pakistan. Both archrivals claim it in its entirety.
Rebels in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi’s rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
India insists the Kashmir militancy is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.