SRINAGAR – Five Indian police personnel were killed Friday when Kashmiri rebels fighting against Indian rule ambushed a police vehicle in India-held Kashmir (IHK), while two civilians were killed and several others injured in clashes that erupted during a gun-battle between rebels and Indian government forces in the disputed region, officials and witnesses said.

Superintendent of Police Pani said rebels sprayed gunfire at the police vehicle in the southern Achabal area. All five officers on board were killed, he said. No other details were immediately available.

On Thursday, two police officers were killed in two separate shootings by suspected rebels in Srinagar, the region’s main city, and in the southern Kulgam area.

At the funeral of one of the slain policemen on Friday, hundreds of people chanted slogans calling for Kashmir’s freedom from Indian rule.

Earlier Friday, Indian government forces cordoned off Arwani village in the south on a tip that at least two Kashmiri rebels were hiding there, said inspector-general of police Muneer Ahmed Khan.

Fighting erupted when the militants began firing in an attempt to break through the siege, Khan said. Villagers said soldiers blasted at least two houses with explosives.

As the fighting raged, thousands of people in the village and neighbouring areas ignored the government security lockdown and marched to Arwani in an attempt to help the trapped rebels escape. They hurled rocks at the troops and chanted slogans against Indian rule.