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Thousands flee disputed Kashmir after alert

Reuters

Foreign tourists disembark from a boat on the banks of Dal Lake as they prepare to leave Srinagar on Saturday.

Reuters SRINAGAR/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) — Thousands of Indian tourists, pilgrims and workers began leaving the disputed region of Kashmir after a local government alert over possible militant attacks, and India said it killed at least five militants who were trying to attack its forces.

Indian security officials said on Friday they had found evidence of attacks planned by what they said were Pakistani military-backed militants on a major Hindu pilgrimage in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

A local government order effectively called off the pilgrimage, asking the pilgrims and tourists to return home.

Srinagar-based Indian defense spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said on Saturday that there had been a number of attempts by Pakistan-based militants to disturb peace in the Kashmir region and target the pilgrims.

Around five to seven militants were killed when they tried to attack Indian troops near an area known as the Keran sector, Kalia said, adding that arms and ammunition were recovered in the operation.

“Security forces will continue to respond to all nefarious activities,” Kalia said.

A Pakistani defense spokesperson dismissed India’s assertions as “mere propaganda,” calling them “blatant lies.”

A senior local government official in Kashmir said the local government advisory had caused panic and led to the departure of “thousands” of tourists, pilgrims and laborers.Speech

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