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Clashes at a Kashmir rally turn deadly

Authorities opened fire at protesters taking part in an anti-India street march in the disputed region of Kashmir, officials have said. The violence with the security forces follows an arrest of a separatist leader.

Indian government forces killed a teenage boy amid violence with angry protesters in the

dominantly Muslim region of Kashmir

on Saturday. Three more people were wounded, according to police sources.

The uncle of the boy told the AFP news agency that the police first detained his nephew before shooting him at point-blank range in front of dozens of other protesters.

Commenting on those claims, inspector general of the regional police department, Javid Gillani, told AFP that "if that is true it will come out."

"We will speak to [the boy's uncle] and investigate his version of the boy's killing," he added.

Police expressed regret over "the unfortunate incident" in a separate statement.

"A preliminary enquiry conducted into the matter indicates that the forces deployed have acted in violation of the laid-down SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)," it said.

The crowd gathered in the Narbal area of state capital, Srinagar, chanting slogans and throwing rocks, according to police. After the news of the boy's death, hundreds more people came out to join the crowd as troops tried to break it up with tear gas. Around 24 people were injured in the struggle, police said.

Two wars over Kashmir

Shops, businesses and public transport were shut down in Srinagar and nearby towns on Saturday, after separatists disputing India's rule of Kashmir called for a strike. The strike was sparked by news of the arrest of separatist leader Masarat Alam the day before, who was detained for raising pro-Pakistan slogans and organizing protest marches.

His arrest, just weeks after he was released from five years in prison on the same charge, sparked a violent clash on Friday, which left 20 police officers and five protesters injured.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the divided Himalayan region

of Kashmir, and more than 45,000 people have died in a secessionist insurgency since the late 1980's.

India accuses Pakistan of fanning the conflict and backing militant groups, which Islamabad denies.

dj/sms (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)

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