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Thousands protest in Kashmir after Indian army kills civilians

SRINAGAR: Police fired tear gas when thousands defied a curfew in India-Occupied Kashmir and took to the streets Monday in protest at the killing of six people by soldiers.

Indian authorities had shut schools and suspended internet services as tension mounted over the shooting of civilians at a military checkpoint in southern Kashmir.

But thousands of demonstrators still clashed with police and troops across the territory, one police officer told AFP.

Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik (R) looks out from a police vehicle after being detained while leading a protest march against the March 4 Shopian killings-AFP

Tear gas was fired to disperse crowds who defied an official order to stay indoors, he added. There were no initial reports of injuries.

The unrest was triggered by the shooting of four people in Shopian district on Sunday evening when soldiers claimed to have exchanged gunfire with a “suspected militant” at a checkpoint.

Three others were found dead in a car some distance away. The Indian army described them as accomplices but police were investigating this claim.

Police later found another civilian dead in a separate car.

A sixth victim found Monday was identified by police as a “suspected militant” but no weapon was found on this person.

The shootings sparked an outpouring of anger among locals, who said the civilians were non-combatants.

Killing of Kashmiri youth in fake encounters is rampant in India-Occupied Kashmir.

India-Occupied Kashmir’s chief minister Mehbooba Mufi said she was “deeply distressed by more deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire” as demonstrators took to the streets.

About half a million Indian soldiers are deployed in the Muslim-majority state, where more than 260 people were killed only in 2017.

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