Kashmir clashes claim 23 lives
PROTESTERS and government forces in Indian Kashmir clashed for a second day as anger over the death of an influential rebel leader boiled over, with 23 people killed in some of the worst civilian unrest to hit the region since 2010.
Another 200 people have been wounded in the violence, many of them protesters who were hit when government forces fired tear gas canisters and live ammunition on July 9.
Among the 23 dead was a policeman who drowned when protesters pushed an armoured vehicle into a river in the southern district of Sangam on July 9.
Thousands of residents of the disputed region are defying a government-imposed curfew to take to the streets in protest at the killing of rebel leader Burhan Wani.
The state government, which has also cut off internet and mobile phone networks to try to stop the protests spreading, called for calm.
“They [protesters] should not take their protests to a level where a man holding a gun is forced to open fire,” said spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar.
There were also reports of security forces attacking hospitals and ambulances treating the wounded.
Mr Wani, a 22-year-old commander of Kashmir’s largest rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), was killed along with two other rebels during a gun battle with government forces.
Mr Wani joined the HM rebel group at 15 and was viewed as a hero by many in Kashmir. The state’s former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted after his death that he had become the “new icon of Kashmir’s disaffected”. –