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Tight curfew imposed in Kashmir after 4 killed in clashes

By Mukhtar Ahmad, for CNN
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Fri July 19, 2013
Indian paramilitary troopers stand alert during a curfew in Srinagar on July 19, 2013.
Indian paramilitary troopers stand alert during a curfew in Srinagar on July 19, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kashmir separatists had called for a strike and protests Friday
  • Four people were killed when security forces fired on protesters Thursday
  • The protesters had attacked a border security force
  • They were protesting the alleged beating of an imam by security forces

Srinagar, India (CNN) -- Indian security forces Friday enforced a strict curfew in Srinagar and other major towns of Indian-administered Kashmir to stymie protests sparked Thursday when four civilians were shot and killed by the paramilitary border security force.

Kashmiri separatists had called for a strike and Friday post-prayer protests in reaction to the deaths in the mountainous village of Gool in the Ramban district, 190 kilometers north of the city of Jammu.

Early Friday, thousands of police and paramilitary troops fanned out in Srinagar and other towns to enforce the restrictions on movement of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

The security forces had erected barricades at road intersections. Coils of razor-fitted wire also were used to enforce the curfew.

Nonetheless, people staged protests at several places, sometimes clashing with the security forces. Two people were wounded in the clashes and were evacuated to hospital, according to police.

March: Kashmir hit by deadly police camp attack

The shooting erupted after scores of protestors attacked a security force camp Thursday morning, said the minister of state for home, Sajjad Kichloo.

In addition to the four killed, 40 people were reported wounded.

The villagers were protesting the alleged beating of the imam of a local mosque by the security force, officials said.

India's home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde ordered an investigation into the incident after the state chief minister, Omar Abdullah, spoke to him.

"It is highly unacceptable to shoot at unarmed protesters just because they were reportedly protesting manhandling of an imam of their area," Abdullah said in a prepared statement. "There is no justification or rationalization of this deplorable act. This shocking act warrants and demands the severest of condemnation in the strongest possible terms."

On Friday, Abdullah, chaired a Cabinet meeting that sanctioned an extraordinary ex-gratia relief payment of "rupees five lakh," or more than U.S. $8,000, to the next of kin of each of those killed.

The Cabinet, apart from "extending condolences to the bereaved families and sympathies with those injured in the firing incident, condemned the excessive use of force."

Traffic on the lone highway connecting the landlocked Kashmir valley to rest of the country remained suspended Friday, according to traffic police.

In a separate incident, a leading cardiologist, Sheikh Jalal, was wounded in a militant ambush that left his two police guards dead Thursday in the south Kashmir town of Pampore, a police spokesman said.

Jalal was shot and is being treated at a hospital.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Militant attacks in Indian Kashmir have seen a sudden surge recently in the capital city, Srinagar, and other towns.

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