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Death toll hits 20 in Kashmir protests

  • Story Highlights
  • Violent protests continue across Kashmir, death toll rises to 20
  • Thousands join funeral procession for one of the victims
  • Protesters angry over govt. decision not to transfer land to a Hindu shrine
  • State govt. revoked transfer after a week of violent protests by Muslims
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SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir (CNN) -- Violent protests continued across Kashmir Wednesday, as the death toll from the past two days of demonstrations rose to 20, a senior police official said.

Three people critically injured in the protests died on Wednesday, adding to the already high tensions. Several thousand people joined the Wednesday morning funeral procession for one of the victims in old Srinagar city.

The region -- which is split between India and Pakistan -- has been a flashpoint of violence between Hindus and Muslims for more than a month. The violence was triggered by the Hindu government's attempt to transfer land to a Hindu shrine.

The latest round of protests was started on Monday by fruit growers who were upset that Hindu protesters had blocked a highway leading into India, preventing their crops from getting to market. It has spiraled into demonstrations against the deaths.

A police official said 200 people have been injured in the two days of protests.

A round-the-clock curfew in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir, was lifted for several hours Wednesday to allow residents to buy essential commodities. During the curfew suspension, an angry mob attacked a policeman in Srinagar's old city, torching his motorbike.

Speaking Wednesday, Kashmir's Indian-appointed governor N. N. Vohra made a fervent appeal for demonstrators to maintain calm. He expressed deep grief for "the families who lost their near and dear ones in the unfortunate incidents."

From Journalist Mukhtar Ahmad

All About Jammu and Kashmir

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