Death toll rises to 38 as Indian Kashmir clashes spread | News | DW | 15.07.2016
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Death toll rises to 38 as Indian Kashmir clashes spread

Protests against Indian rule have spread across divided Kashmir as the main mosques were closed. Residents were told to stay indoors but after prayers were held in neighborhood mosques, clashes spread.

Indian troops armed with automatic rifles and in riot gear fanned across villages and towns in Kashmir on Friday, ordering residents to stay indoors as a blanket curfew remained in force.

But after people prayed in smaller, neighborhood mosques, protests continued and police reported clashes. Troops fired tear gas to disperse rock-throwing crowds who chanted pro-independence and anti-India slogans.

One teenage boy was killed and two others injured after army soldiers fired guns to stop hundreds of villagers who attacked their camp with rocks in northern Kupwara area on Friday. A young man was killed and two others injured on Friday evening after troops fired at protesters in southern Yaripore village.

At least 36 people had been killed in the week-long unrest before Friday with 1,500 people injured, including 100 who were hit by pellet guns used by Indian troops for crowd control, leading to eye injuries.

The death of rebel leader Burhan Wani in a gunfight with government forces last week sparked the clashes.

India and Pakistan have gone to war three times over the disputed territory.

India and Pakistan have gone to war three times over the disputed territory.

A hundred 'blinded by Indian riot police'

Hospitals in the main city of Srinagar have struggled to cope with the rush of the wounded, hundreds of them with severe injuries in their eyes. The city's general hospital has carried out more than 100 eye operations since Saturday for people hit by pellet shotguns.

Sudershan Khokhar, an ophthalmologist from the premier New Delhi-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said he had not witnessed so many injured at one time in three decades.

"During wartime, I think you will get such injuries," the eye doctor told the Indian Express newspaper. "It (pellet guns) shouldn't be used here or anywhere."

Across the line of control in Pakistan-administer Kashmir, more than 4,000 people rallied in Muzaffarabad. Many held pictures of Burhan Wani.

"India understands the language of bullet and not voice of people. We have no other option, just to start an armed struggle," Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi of the hardline Jamat-ud-Dawa militia told the crowd. "We call on the military and political leaderships that Kashmiri mujahideen should be allowed to go and fight against the Indian troops and for the freedom movement."

Tensions rise with Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Friday that his country would continue extending political, moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris. He urged his countrymen to observe "black day" on Tuesday to express solidarity with "Kashmiris who are facing atrocities at the hands of Indian forces."

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since they were partitioned from former British colonial territory in 1947. Both nuclear-armed states claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety.

The two countries agreed a border ceasefire in 2003 that has largely held, although there are fears the unrest could lead to a revival of cross-border militancy.

In New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to host a rare meeting of chief ministers from around India on Saturday where the deadly unrest in Kashmir is on the agenda.

jar/jm (AP, AFP, PTI)

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