May 25, 2015 / 12:53 PM / 2 years ago

Militants kill five, target telecoms in Indian Kashmir attacks

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Militants killed four Indian soldiers and an employee of a mobile phone shop in Indian Kashmir on Monday, in a spate of attacks in the disputed region.

In Sopore in northern Kashmir, one employee was killed and two wounded when militants fired at a franchise outlet of BSNL, a state-owned telecommunications company, a senior police officer said. It was the second attack in as many days targeting telecommunication businesses.

In a separate incident, three Indian soldiers were killed and a fourth wounded by a group of six or seven gunmen who crossed into Indian Kashmir from the Pakistani side of the disputed border, an army officer said. The army killed one of the militants in a gunfight that followed, the officer said.

Militants also opened fire on an army patrol and shot dead a soldier in the south of Indian-administered Kashmir police said. The army returned fire and killed one.

The attack on the mobile phone shop follows the appearance last week of posters - bearing the name of the Islamic militant group Lashkar-e-Islam - in the same area, warning phone companies to shut down their operations and landlords to

"We warn these telecommunication companies to close all networking services, close their offices and stop recharging services as well. We warn the retailers as well to stop recharging the subscribers within seven days," the posters read.

It is not clear why the militants are targeting telecoms companies, but the warnings are serious - the militants hurled two grenades at a mobile phone tower used by Vodafone, Aircel and Airtel near a police station on Sunday. One of the grenades exploded near the tower without causing any damage.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is a heavily militarized region, claimed by both Pakistan and India in full but ruled by the two countries in part.

Separatists have been fighting Indian security forces in the Indian-administered part of the region since 1989, although the frequency of attacks has waned in recent years. India accuses Pakistan of training and arming the rebels, a claim Islamabad denies.

Writing by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Larry King

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