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Fire destroys historic shrine, triggering anger in Kashmir

From Mukhtar Ahmad, CNN
updated 9:22 PM EDT, Mon June 25, 2012
A crowd gathers as firefighters battle the blaze at a historic Sufi shrine in the Indian-controlled Kashmir capital on Monday.
A crowd gathers as firefighters battle the blaze at a historic Sufi shrine in the Indian-controlled Kashmir capital on Monday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fire destroys revered 200-year-old Sufi shrine in Kashmir's capital
  • Protesters, angry over the fire, clash with police; 20 reported injured
  • Police spokesman says the relics inside the shrine were saved from the flames

Srinigar, India (CNN) -- A blaze in a historic Sufi shrine in Indian-controlled Kashmir's capital on Monday triggered widespread anger and violence.

The 200-year-old shrine, a classic of Kashmir architecture, caught fire early Monday morning. The wooden shrine was quickly destroyed.

Efforts by firefighters could not save the ornate structure, named for an 11th-century Iraqi saint, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani, who never visited Kashmir.

The gutting of the highly revered shrine set off angry protests and clashes between police and protesters in the old city. Authorities put extra security measures in place.

A police spokesman said though the shrine was damaged, the relics it contained were safe.

He also confirmed that 20 people, including 10 police officers, were injured in the clashes.

Several religious and separatist organizations called for a protest shutdown for Tuesday.

Kashmir is having a booming tourist season. Peace has prevailed in this Himalayan region after the deadly unrest of summer 2010, which claimed 112 lives and left hundreds of others wounded.

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