Five dead in Kashmir, shops stage boycott of crackdown

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Three rebels, a counterinsurgency police officer and an army soldier were killed on Sunday during a gunbattle in Kashmir, officials said, as shops and businesses shut down to protest a sweeping and ongoing crackdown against activists seeking the end of Indian rule in the disputed region.

The fighting triggered large anti-India protests and clashes as hundreds of residents thronged the village of Turigam in the southern Kulgam area and barraged troops with stones. An army officer and two other soldiers were injured in the fighting, which was still raging later on Sunday.

Government forces opened fire with shotguns and tear gas to quell the protesters, injuring at least half a dozen civilians, residents and emergency workers said.

Police and paramilitary soldiers also patrolled streets in Srinagar, the region’s main city, and enforced a security lockdown in its downtown area in anticipation of protests and clashes.

Carrying automatic rifles and wearing riot gear, soldiers and police erected iron barricades and laid razor wire on roads and intersections to cut off neighbourhoods.

The crackdown began last Friday night. Police are mainly targetting Kashmir’s largest political-religious group, Jama’at-e-Islami. The group is dedicated to the right to self-determination for the Himalayan region, which is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety.

An Indian paramilitary soldier plays with a Kashmiri child as he stands guard during security lockdown in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. – AP