TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Tension in Muslim-majority Kashmir has been high since a Feb. 14 suicide bomb attack by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant group killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave troops a "free hand" to respond to the attack, and near-daily searches in villages in Kashmir since then have often triggered violent confrontations, with civilians caught in crossfire to the alarm of rights groups.
Modi's tough response to the bomb attack, which included an air strike against what India said was a militant camp in Pakistan, is believed to have given his party a boost in a general election that began on April 11 and ends on May 19.
Three JeM militants, including a Pakistani commander, and an Indian soldier were killed in the gun battle in Dalipora, a village in south Kashmir, which began in the early hours, police said.
Villagers said a civilian, who they identified as Rayees Ahmad Dar, 32, was also killed after Indian soldiers had sent him to search a house where militants were believed to be hiding. Villagers in the area have complained before about the army using civilians as human shields in searches.