Four soldiers have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir in a gun battle with militants, police say. The clash occurred in Pulwama district, where more than 40 Indian paramilitary police were killed in a suicide attack on Thursday. A civilian was also killed in the shootout as Indian troops launched a search operation in the area. Meanwhile Pakistan has recalled its ambassador from Delhi for consultations amid escalating tensions. India recalled its top diplomat from Pakistan in the wake of Thursday’s attack in which it said the Pakistani state was complicit. Pakistan denies any role in the bombing, which was claimed by a group based on its soil Jaish-e-Mohammad. Police say two militants who were trapped in the village in Pulwama have been killed in Monday’s operation. Heavy gunfire has been heard, and Indian security officials are appealing to villagers to stay indoors. Police told news that when they fired “warning shots” at the house in Pinglena village where the militants were hiding, they fired back. One officer who was critically injured has been taken to hospital. The owner of the house was killed during the exchange of fire, police added. Last week’s attack in Pulwama was the deadliest in Kashmir in decades.
The bomber used a vehicle packed with explosives to ram a convoy of 78 buses carrying Indian security forces on the heavily guarded Srinagar-Jammu highway about 20km (12 miles) from the capital, Srinagar. The alleged bomber was identified as a local Kashmiri aged between 19 and 21. The following day, police began searching villages in Pulwama. Thursday’s attack sparked anti-Pakistan protests in some Indian cities and angry mobs targeted Kashmiri students and businessmen. Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir but control only parts of it. Kashmiri Muslims are being warned to stay vigilant, amid reports of threats and intimidation after last week’s deadly attack on Indian forces. Isolated incidents of students from Kashmir being beaten up or evicted from their accommodation in northern Indian states were reported in local media. India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) offered help to students in need, but also warned of false reports. The heavy death toll of the attack shocked many across the country and led the Indian government to say it would begin its retaliation by “completely isolating” Pakistan diplomatically. India has already imposed a swathe of economic measures on Pakistan after the attack, including revoking Most Favoured Nation trading status and raising customs duty to 200%.