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India imposes strict curfew after four Kashmiris die

International Desk |
Update: 2010-08-13 17:46:47
India imposes strict curfew after four Kashmiris die

SRINAGAR: Security forces imposed a strict curfew in Indian Kashmir on Saturday where anti-India protests have claimed 55 lives in two months as the region geared up for a major national holiday.

Authorities stepped up the curfew in the main city Srinagar after four people were killed Friday in the latest of a series of demonstrations against New Delhi`s rule in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.

"We have enforced a curfew across Srinagar to maintain law and order," chief district magistrate Meraj Kakroo said.

The latest killings -- of three teenage students and a 65 year-old-man -- came as Kashmiris marked the first Friday of the Ramadan fasting month where many people in the mostly Muslim region visit mosques to pray.

The deaths occurred days ahead of India`s Independence Day celebrations of the anniversary marking the end of British rule in 1947. Separatists observe the day as a "black day".

Srinagar is the summer capital of Indian Kashmir where Islamic militants have been fighting against India`s rule for the past two decades.

The anti-India protests, which began when a teenage student was killed by a police teargas shell on June 11 in Srinagar, have brought Kashmir`s towns and cities to a standstill.

The majority of protesters killed have been young men and teenagers. Each death has created what Premier Manmohan Singh calls another "cycle of violence".

The killings sparked further demonstrations Friday across Kashmir, police said, adding that in the ensuing clashes 30 security personnel and 10 civilians were injured. Three of the injured were in a "very critical condition" doctors said.

In Srinagar, police announced a "strict curfew and strict action against violators" over loudspeakers.

On Friday, influential separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was freed from weeks of house arrest by the authorities and led thousands of residents through Srinagar to protest Indian rule.

The troops moved into Srinagar`s streets on Saturday morning to enforce the curfew after Muslims offered dawn prayers.

India and Pakistan each hold part of Kashmir but claim it in full. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars over the region since independence in 1947.

India has accused Pakistan of stoking the unrest.

BDST:13:02 HRS, August 14, 2010

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