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Thursday 19 April 2018

Indian-controlled Kashmir undergoes strict curfew to prevent protests

Kashmiri Muslim protesters run for cover from tear gas in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir (AP)
Kashmiri Muslim protesters run for cover from tear gas in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir (AP)

A strict curfew has been extended to most parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir by authorities as separatists leaders called for weekend protests against Indian rule.

Government troops in armoured vehicles patrolled the streets to thwart any attempt by protesters in Srinagar to march to the city's commercial centre.

But protests erupted at about eight places in the city on Saturday, despite the stringent curfew.

Police and paramilitary soldiers fired tear gas and shotgun pellets at two places to stop rock-throwing protesters.

At least 10 people, including six policemen, were injured in clashes across the region, said a police officer.

Separatist leaders, who challenge India's sovereignty over Kashmir, urged Kashmiris to march to a historic square over the weekend to demand a referendum to decide the future of the region.

Shops, businesses and schools were shut for the 36th day running, and authorities blocked most mobile phone services and internet in an attempt to prevent demonstrators from mobilising.

Kashmir has been under a security clampdown and curfew since the killing of a popular rebel commander on July 8 sparked some of the largest protests against Indian rule in recent years.

At least 56 civilians and two policemen have been killed and more than 1,400 protesters have been arrested.

Kashmir is divided between arch-rivals India and Pakistan who both claim the region entirely.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Kashmiri rebels who have been fighting for independence or for a merger with Pakistan since 1989.

Pakistan denies the charge, saying it only provides moral and political support.

More than 68,000 people have been killed since rebel groups began fighting Indian forces in 1989 and in a subsequent Indian military crackdown.


Press Association

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