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Militants kill five Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir attack

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SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Militants killed five Indian paramilitary police on Wednesday in an attack on security forces deployed in a Kashmiri town, a senior police officer said.

Three paramilitaries, a local policeman and a woman bystander were wounded, and one militant was killed when the police returned fire, he said.

The attack in Anantnag town was claimed by Al Umar Mujahideen, an Islamist militant group based in Kashmir. It was the deadliest in Indian Kashmir since February, when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a bus, killing 40 paramilitary police.

That bombing raised tensions between nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan, part of whose border runs through the disputed, Muslim-majority region.

Separately on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet agreed to extend direct federal rule over the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Himalayan region has been being directly governed by New Delhi since 2018, after Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quit a regional coalition and called for federal authorities to take control.

Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by Pakistan, and Indian forces have struggled to quell a revolt there for decades.

India blames Pakistan for fomenting the rebellion in its only Muslim-majority state, while Pakistan says it only provides moral support to the insurgency.

(Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari; editing by Mayank Bhardwaj and John Stonestreet)

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