NEW DELHI — Three Indian soldiers were killed and four wounded in an attack by suspected separatist militants in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday, military and police officials said.
The soldiers died when suspected rebels of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) opened fire on a military convoy traveling in the remote Tirap district, said a senior military official, who declined to be named.
India’s mountainous northeast is home to dozens of ethnic groups, many of whom are campaigning for greater autonomy, statehood or even secession.
But attacks on the Indian military are rare in the area, intelligence sources told Reuters.
The National Socialist Council of Nagaland has been fighting for decades for an independent ethnic Naga homeland in parts of India’s northeast and Burma, where it runs a government-in-exile.
New Delhi has deployed troops in the area, which shares borders with China, Burma and Bangladesh.
China does not recognize Indian sovereignty in the region, and calls it “south Tibet”.
In February, Beijing was irked when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the region to mark the anniversary of its foundation as a state and inaugurate a train line and power station.
Modi has repeatedly emphasized the need to develop the far-flung state, easing restrictions on building roads and military facilities as a counter to the infrastructure boost China has made in recent years on the other side of the border.
Separately, one soldier and one special police officer were killed in a gunfight between Indian troops and militants in Kashmir on Thursday. Two soldiers and one civilian were injured in the fighting.