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Four killed, the latest fatalities in Kashmir's summer of violence

By Mukhtar Ahmed, CNN
Kashmiri Muslim protesters shout pro-freedom slogans during an anti-India protest in Srinagar on August 12.
Kashmiri Muslim protesters shout pro-freedom slogans during an anti-India protest in Srinagar on August 12.
  • Four deaths are latest fatalities in a summer of anti-Indian violence
  • Anti-Indian violence has killed 55 since early June

Srinagar, India (CNN) -- Indian security forces opened fire on anti-Indian mobs Friday, killing four people in the latest violence by Kashmiris who want thousands of Indian troops out of Indian-administered Kashmir.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been in the throes of violent anti-India protests since June 11, which have claimed 55 lives and left scores others wounded. The ongoing protests are part of a so-called "Quit Kashmir" campaign launched by separatist groups against Indian rule in Kashmir.

Authorities said the dead included a 21-year-old man who was apparently shot and a 60-year-old man who was hit in the head by a tear gas shell in two separate incidents.

The 21-year-old died when Indian security forces opened fire on a stone throwing mob that defied curfew restrictions in the frontier town of Trehgam, 74 miles (120 kms) from Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, early Friday morning.

"Twenty-one year old Mudasir Ahmad Zargar died on the spot and two women were injured who were evacuated to hospital for treatment," local district magistrate Mohammad Shafi Rather told CNN.

He said security forces had to open fire after baton charges and other means of crowd control failed.

Zargar's body has been handed over to relatives, and the burial is likely to take place after the Friday prayers, he added.

"We are enforcing the curfew in the town and its adjoining areas."

In Pattan, 18 miles (30 kms) from Srinagar on the strategic Srinagar Muzaffarabad road, another mob defying a curfew clashed with Indian security forces, pelting them with stones. The forces responded with baton charges and tear gas.

A tear gas canister hit a 60-year old man on the head who fell down unconscious and was rushed to Srinagar for treatment, according to a senior officer.

Attending doctors said the victim could not be revived. Doctors were, however, unsure as to whether the critical skull injury was caused by the tear gas shell or by a live bullet.

In a third incident, two villagers were killed and two other protesters were wounded when Indian paramilitary troopers opened fire at a mob that attacked their camp near the north Kashmir town of Sopore Friday afternoon with stone and rocks.

"The security forces had to open fire after baton charges and tear gas failed to quell the mob that attacked the camp at Bomai village this afternoon, " Police Officer Altaf Ahmad said.

Two other people who were critically injured were sent to Srinagar for specialized treatment, he said. Bomai village is situated 36 miles (59 km) north of Srinagar.

In Srinagar, Indian authorities lifted curfew restrictions on the first Friday of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan to allow people to offer congregational prayers in various mosques.

But violence broke out after prayers and police said one person was critically wounded by security forces in clashes in the old city area of Srinagar.

Earlier, thousands of people converged on the historic Jamia Mosque in the old city where prayers were offered for the first time after nearly two months because of curfews and security restrictions.

The chairman of what is known as a conglomerate of moderate separatist groups, the Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq, addressed the congregation and asked "India to take concrete steps to solve the dispute."

The sprawling mosque reverberated with chants of "we want freedom."

The mirwaiz had been under house arrest and was released Friday morning. Mirwaiz is the title given to the spiritual leader of the approximately 5 million Muslims in predominantly Muslim Kashmir.

India deployed thousands of troops in Kashmir in an effort several years ago to defeat what Indian leaders said was a Pakistan-backed insurgency. While that insurgency has, according to independent observers, largely been beaten, the troops remain.

Kashmiris, who see the security forces as an irritant, have been protesting, seeking self-determination.