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2 more dead in anti-India protests

By Mukhtar Ahmad, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two protesters killed as anti-India violence persists in Kashmir
  • Police say an officer fired in self-defense after being pelted with stones
  • The region has seen violent protests since June 11

Srinagar, India (CNN) -- Anti-India protests and clashes Friday rocked Indian-administered Kashmir, leaving two people dead and several others wounded, authorities said.

The region has been in the throes of violent protests since June 11. At least 62 people have been killed -- mostly teenagers and young adults -- and scores have been wounded.

The protests are part of a so-called "Quit Kashmir" campaign launched by separatist groups against Indian rule in Kashmir.

In the northern Kashmir city of Sopore, Indian security forces opened fire on protesters, killing an 18-year old man and wounding one other person. Residents claim the shooting was unprovoked, but a spokesman for the Indian paramilitary central reserve police force (CRPF) said mobs threw stones at officers, and one officer fired in self defense.

The young man, Mudasir Ahmad, was initially critically injured in the shooting but succumbed to his injuries in the hospital early Friday. Authorities promptly issued a curfew in Sopore, but it was defied by thousands of residents, who joined Ahmad's funeral march chanting "We want freedom!"

Police have registered a case against the paramilitary unit that opened fire, according to a senior police officer.

In the south Kashmir city of Bejibehara, protesters marched on the highway connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.

The protesters later threw rocks and stones at the local police station and set fire to three vehicles.

A police spokesman said security forces fired rubber bullets to control the stone-throwing protesters, injuring two of them, one of whom later died.

The clashes later intensified as authorities moved fresh reinforcements to the city.

Clashes between anti-India protesters and security forces have been reported after congregational prayers on the second Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Indian security forces used teargas and baton charges to quell the protests in the capital of Srinagar and other towns.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been a source of bitter dispute between the two south Asian nuclear neighbors, India and Pakistan. The region is claimed by both, but each rules only part of it.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been in the throes of separatist violence for the past 20-years, leaving -- according to the official count -- 43,000 people dead. However, many human rights groups and non-governmental organizations say the figure is twice the official estimate.

India deployed thousands of troops in Kashmir to contain what Indian leaders believed was a Pakistan-backed insurgency that began in 1989. That insurgency is no longer raging but the troops have remained.

 
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