Infinite curfew imposed amid Kashmir violence

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The Independent Online

Authorities imposed an indefinite curfew across violence-wracked Indian Kashmir today as anti-India protests and clashes between Kashmiri Muslims and government forces continued.

The rigid curfew was ordered a day after four people were killed and another 80 were wounded as government forces fired on thousands of protesters, a police officer said.

The mostly Muslim region, where resistance to rule by predominantly Hindu India is strong, has spent most of the past six weeks under curfew following raging street demonstrations by Kashmiri Muslims and strikes ordered by separatist groups. The four deaths yesterday raised the number of people killed in clashes to 21.

The violence continued today despite tens of thousands of armed police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear patrolling Kashmir's towns and warning residents to stay indoors.

Protesters set fire to a counter-insurgency police force camp in Kreeri, a village north-west of Indian Kashmir's main city, Srinagar, according to the police officer. Security forces fired on the protesters, wounding three, the officer said. One of the two injured women in hospital was in critical condition, he said.

Similar protests were reported elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley.

The recent tension in the Himalayan region - divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both - is reminiscent of the late 1980s, when protests against New Delhi's rule sparked an armed conflict. More than 68,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians, in the conflict.

Separatist politicians and militants reject Indian sovereignty over Kashmir and want to carve out a separate homeland or merge with predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir since 1947. Both claim the region in entirety.