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Indian Kashmir orders probe into latest killings

International Desk |
Update: 2010-06-26 21:23:16

SRINAGAR: Authorities in restive Indian Kashmir ordered a judicial probe on Sunday into the killing of two young men by security forces in a bid to stem protests over their deaths.

Police said the two men died on Friday in Sopore, 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of Kashmir`s summer capital Srinagar, when troops opened fire after protesters pelted their vehicle with stones.

"The state government has appointed a retired justice to conduct an enquiry into the Sopore incident" and report within a month, a statement said Syed Bashir-ud-Din, who has been asked to conduct the probe, is also the head of Kashmir`s human rights commission.

The retired judge has been asked to "determine the persons responsible for the said deaths and fix responsibility for use of excessive force, if any".

Tensions have been rising in recent months in Indian Kashmir, where two decades of rebellion against New Delhi`s rule have left thousands dead.

In Sopore, the situation was reported quiet as authorities enforced a curfew for a third straight day.

Police clamped the curfew on the town late Friday after thousands of people poured into the streets, torched a security vehicle and attacked a police station to protest against the killing of the two men.

On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators defied the curfew to stage noisy protests and clash with security forces.

Including the two young men, who were both in their early 20s, five civilians have been killed in incidents implicating Indian security forces over the past two weeks.
Indian Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said in a statement late Saturday that "all forces deployed in the state have to exercise utmost restraint while dealing with the civilians".

But Abdullah added the government could not "afford to be complacent against those who want to be a law unto themselves and disturb the peace and tranquility in the state".

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each rule part of Kashmir but lay claim to all of the scenic Himalayan region.

BDST: 1733 HRS, June 27, 2010

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