Curfew extended in Kashmir, but 2 die
SRINAGAR, India — Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir extended a curfew to most of the disputed Himalayan region Friday in an attempt to prevent an anti-India protest march to a prominent shrine, but clashes erupted as thousands defied the restrictions.
The mostly Muslim region, where resistance to rule by predominantly Hindu India is strong, has been under a rolling curfew and strikes for nearly a month after the killing of a popular rebel commander sparked massive anti-India demonstrations. At least 54 civilians and a policeman have been killed and thousands injured.
Separatists called on Kashmiris to march to Hazratbal shrine in the city of Srinagar and stage protests after Friday prayers there.
Police and paramilitary soldiers patrolled streets and laid razor wire and steel barricades to cut off neighborhoods in the city. Shops, businesses and schools remained closed for the 28th consecutive day.
Thousands of Kashmiris defied the security lockdown and demonstrated at dozens of places in the region. They chanted slogans such as “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom.”
Violence erupted in at least two dozen places after government forces intercepted the protesters and fired live ammunition, tear gas and shotgun pellets, police and witnesses said.
Two men were killed and at least 100 civilians were injured, some of them critically. At least 20 police and soldiers were also reported injured.
Troops continued firing shotguns to disperse angry crowds despite warnings from India's home ministry to minimize their use, and requests for a ban from local and international rights groups. The pellets have killed at least one man and left hundreds of civilians with serious eye injuries.