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Central & South Asia

Kashmir villagers clash with Indian troops

Police station torched amid protests over killing of seven people, who villagers say were civilians.

Last updated: 25 Feb 2014 10:45
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About a dozen armed groups have been fighting Indian forces in the region since 1989

Hundreds of angry villagers have clashed with police in Indian-administered Kashmir following suspicions that security forces shot dead seven civilians they mistook for rebels, a police officer and a witness said.

The villagers torched a police station in the forested Kupwara region close to the defacto border with Pakistan to demand security forces hand over the bodies for identification and for burial, an unnamed officer said on Tuesday.

"Police fired tear gas and warning shots in the air to disperse the angry crowd who were hurling rocks at them," the officer said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.

A local resident, Manzoor Ahmed, said by phone that one villager was wounded with a bullet during Tuesday's clashes before paramilitary reinforcements were called in to control the situation.

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He said villagers "suspect" that seven people killed overnight were civilians rather than armed rebels, as rumours circulated in the area about civilian hunters who have gone missing.

On Monday, the army said it killed the seven suspected rebels in remote Dardpora village, 140km from the main city of Srinagar, during a joint operation with police.

"The identities of the seven are being ascertained," army spokesman N N Joshi told AFP.

The shootings took place near the highly militarised border that divides the Himalayan region between India and Pakistan. Both countries have claimed the territory in full since independence from Britain in 1947.

About a dozen armed groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or for merger of the territory with Pakistan. The fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, dead.

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AFP
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