By Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Suspected militants shot and killed two drivers and set fire to their apple trucks in Indian Kashmir on Thursday, a senior police official said.
The official said the attack took place in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, which is a major apple-growing region and a hotbed of militancy that has raged in Indian Kashmir for decades.
The state police tweeted that two civilians had been killed and a third person injured in Shopian, but did not give details.
There have been signs that militant actions have picked up in Indian Kashmir in last two months after New Delhi revoked the region’s decades-old autonomy in August.
Apple farming provides jobs for some 3.5 million people and is a major part of Indian Kashmir’s economy, which went into a tailspin after New Delhi imposed a lockdown on the region, including cutting phone and internet links.
Over the last two weeks, suspected militants have killed one truck driver and a trader in Shopian.
However, trade has shown signs of recovery, as more than 10,000 trucks laden with apples left Indian-ruled Kashmir last week. On an average, about 300-400 apple trucks have been moving out of Shopian alone, over the last 10 days.
In a separate incident in northern Kashmir, one woman was killed and three other civilians injured on Thursday in cross-border shelling between Indian and Pakistani forces in the disputed Kashmir region, a senior Indian police official said.
Indian and Pakistani troops targeted each others’ security posts in the Tanghdar region in northern Kashmir with heavy artillery firing and mortar on Thursday afternoon, the official said.
Tensions between the two countries have flared and there has been intermittent cross-border firing since Aug. 5 when New Delhi flooded Indian Kashmir with troops to quell unrest after it revoked the region’s special autonomous status.
India and Pakistan have disputed Kashmir since their independence from Britain in 1947, fighting two of their three wars over the region.
(Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari in Srinagar; Writing by Neha Dasgupta; Editing by Frances Kerry)