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Kashmir rally turns violent

Protesters hurled rocks and bottles at security forces
Protesters hurled rocks and bottles at security forces

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SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir (CNN) Security forces have killed three suspected Islamic militants in a day of violence in Indian-controlled Kashmir which also saw an angry protest outside Srinagar's largest mosque.

With the next stage of elections in the Jammu and Kashmir state just four days away, about 25 people gathered outside the mosque after Friday prayers, distributing pamphlets and urging citizens to boycott the vote.

But the demonstration turned violent when police ordered the group to stand back and the separatists threw rocks and bottles at officers, who responded with tear gas.

Police cordoned off the area and pushed the group back, occasionally using batons. Officers fired off one round into the air. There were no reports of injuries.

Earlier in the day, an explosive device hidden in a tree trunk went off in Shopian in northern Kashmir, seriously injuring at least three Indian soldiers, according to police sources.

Elsewhere, in Uri sector in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Indian security forces said they killed three suspected rebels trying to cross the frontier from Pakistan. India has stepped up its monitoring of the border with Pakistan and also internal security during the election period.

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And suspected separatists opened fire on a campaign vehicle carrying ruling National Conference party candidate Ghulam Qadir Friday morning in Wathihav, also in northern Kashmir, according to police sources.

Security forces returned fire, but it was not clear if anyone was injured or killed, police said.

The attack is believed to be part of a wave of election-related violence which has left hundreds dead, perpetrated by militants opposed to Indian rule, police sources said.

Kashmir enters the second phase of its four-phase voting on Tuesday. The election's final phase will be on October 8.

Voting for the 87-member Jammu and Kashmir state assembly is being staggered to allow India to put adequate security in place.

For the first phase, 45,000 security personnel were deployed.

Since India first announced in August that it would hold the elections, some 400 people have been killed by militants.

--CNN Producer Suhasini Haidar contributed to this report.



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