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Protester, three soldiers killed in Indian Kashmir

PHOTO:AFP

Troops in Indian-administered Kashmir on Thursday opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators outside an army garrison where militants earlier killed three soldiers, hitting one civilian who later died.

Police said the soldiers fired on a crowd of protesters who threw rocks at an army jeep as it emerged from the barracks, hitting a 40-year-old man.

“In response they fired and injured a man. He later died,” the inspector general of police for the region Javid Gillani told AFP.

Police had earlier fired tear gas and live bullets into the air to try to break up demonstrations after what one officer called “intense clashes”.

The violence followed a pre-dawn assault on the garrison in Kupwara district, near the de-facto border known as the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Army spokesman Rajesh Kalia said two attackers had been killed and search operations were in progress to see if there were any more still in the area.

Police said paramilitary reinforcements were being sent to the area, where demonstrators shouted slogans such as “We want freedom, and “Go India, go back”.

Incidences of civilian unrest following army operations against militants in Indian Kashmir have been rising, in what many analysts see as a sign of growing resentment in the disputed region.

Roughly 500,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947. Both claim the territory in its entirety.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the Kashmir valley, one of the world’s most heavily militarised spots where most people favour independence or a merger with mainly Muslim Pakistan.

Clashes between rebels and government forces have become more frequent since the killing of a popular rebel leader, Burhan Wani, by Indian security forces last July which sparked widespread unrest.

The latest incident occurred just a day after Indian authorities in the area ordered internet service providers to block 22 social media services including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp for a month to maintain “public order”.

Wednesday’s move to block social media was the first time the government took such a step, although it regularly blocks the mobile internet signal in the volatile valley.


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