SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir (CNN) — A standoff at a mosque in the disputed territory of Kashmir is continuing with three militants holding a pair of hostages, police told CNN.
Indian security forces are outside the mosque in the southern Kashmir village of Palnu, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Srinagar, the capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Kashmir has long been an object of dispute between nuclear rivals and neighbors India and Pakistan, and militants fighting for Kashmir’s separation from India have been carrying out attacks against the Indian security forces in Kashmir for 18
This siege began Sunday, when Indian army and police surrounded the mosque after receiving a tip that militants from a Kashmiri militant group were hiding inside.
Security forces were fired upon as they worked to cordon the area, and a trooper and a civilian were injured.
Five civilians who took shelter inside the mosque to escape the crossfire were seized by the holed-up militants. Three of the five eventually managed to leave the mosque.
“Two of the civilians held hostage by the holed-up militants were allowed by them to leave the mosque to hold talks with officials and carry back some food into the mosque for the hostages,” a senior police officer told CNN.
“The third hostage managed to escape by running away from the mosque. The three holed-up militants belonging to Hizbul Mujaheedin group are still holding two hostages inside the mosque with them.”
Military operations have been suspended until Tuesday and police say the first priority is to secure the freedom of the remaining two hostages.
Militants have been taking shelter inside mosques and shrines in Kashmir throughout the past 18 years of armed violence.