Sunday, June 20, 2010
Soldiers fire on Kashmiri protesters; 1 killed
SRINAGAR, India 20, June, 2010 — Indian troops fired on hundreds of demonstrators who tried to torch a paramilitary bunker in Kashmir on Sunday, killing one person and wounding at least five, police said. More were injured in subsequent clashes.
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu and Kashmir state, in an angry protest against the death of a 25-year-old who died a day earlier after being beaten by soldiers in a demonstration last week.
The protesters threw rocks at security forces and surrounded an armored vehicle belonging to paramilitary soldiers, according to footage from AP Television News. They later tried to light a bunker on fire, said Farooq Ahmed, a top police officer. A spokesman for the paramilitary force said they fired in self-defense.
"We exercised maximum restraint. Our soldiers opened fire only in self-defense after the protesters tried to torch the bunker," said Prabhakar Tripathi, spokesman for the Central Reserve Police Force.
One person was killed and at least five wounded, said Ahmed.
The demonstration swelled after the shots were fired, when hundreds more people poured into the streets, chanting "We want freedom" and "Indian forces leave Kashmir."
Fresh clashes erupted as police and paramilitary soldiers fired warning shots and deployed tear gas to quell the spiraling protests.
At least six protesters and five soldiers were injured, Ahmed said.
"The situation has been brought under control and restrictions on assembly of more than five people have been imposed in some parts of Srinagar," he said.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Muslim-majority Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both. Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for the Himalayan region's independence from India or its merger with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 68,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict.