07/09/2007

Indian police clash with hundreds of protestors

The Associated Press

SRINAGAR, India Hundreds of people attacked government forces with rocks in the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday as protests against the police over the killing of a teenager continued for a fourth day.

Kashmiri protester runs for cover as a tear gas shell explodes near him in downtown area of Srinagar, India, Monday, July 9, 2007. Hundreds of people attacked government forces with rocks in the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday as protests against the police over the killing of a teenager continued for a fourth day. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)
Police fired tear gas and used bamboo batons to subdue hundreds of protesters in downtown Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state, said Sajad Ahmed, a local police officer. No one was reported injured.

Also Monday, suspected Islamic rebels exploded a grenade at a public rally held by a key pro-India Kashmiri leader, wounding three paramilitary soldiers and one policeman, authorities said.

The attack occurred soon after Omer Abdullah, the opposition National Conference president, left the venue after addressing nearly 1,000 supporters in Naghama, a village, said Sajjad Ahmed, a police officer. The attackers escaped afterward.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, nearly 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state.

On Friday, police opened fire on demonstrators protesting alleged human rights abuses by Indian security forces after leaving the Jamia mosque in Srinagar. Police wounded two people, said Reyaz Ahmed, a witness to the fight.

One of the victims, a 16-year-old boy, later died, said Dr. Abid Hussain of Sher-E-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, who tried to treat him.

Protests and street demonstrations erupted in several places in downtown Srinagar after the incident in which dozens of demonstrators and policemen were injured.

Meanwhile, shops remained closed for the fourth day and the streets of downtown Srinagar were deserted.

Authorities deployed additional troops in several localities in Srinagar. Police and security forces also erected additional road checkpoints in anticipation of angry protests.

Kashmir is split between Muslim-majority Pakistan and predominantly Hindu India, but claimed by both in entirety. The two sides have fought three wars, including two over Kashmir, since independence from Britain in 1947.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, India's only Muslim majority state, where most people favor independence from mainly Hindu India, or a merger with Muslim Pakistan.

Separatist political groups and nearly a dozen rebel groups reject Indian rule over Kashmir and want to carve out an independent homeland or merge with Pakistan. More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have died in the conflict since 1989.

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