Government forces, anti-India protesters clash in Kashmir towns; Injuries and arrests reported

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Srinagar: Government forces fired warning shots and tear gas to quell protests against Indian rule that erupted Thursday in several towns in restive Kashmir, police said.Protests broke out in several neighbourhoods in Anantnag, a town south of Kashmir’s main city Srinagar, after police detained at least eight people for participating in recent anti-India street protests, said a police officer on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to reporters.Police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse the protests, the officer said.The mostly Muslim region, where resistance to rule by predominantly Hindu India is strong, has been under curfew for most part of the last six weeks as anti-India street protests and clashes surged. Residents say government forces have killed at least 17 people in that period, and local authorities have asked two retired judges to investigate the deaths.The recent tension in the Himalayan region — divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both — is reminiscent of the late 1980s, when protests against New Delhi’s rule sparked an armed conflict. More than 68,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians, in the conflict.Also on Thursday, clashes erupted between rock-throwing protesters and troops in the northern towns of Sopore and Baramulla.The police official said troops in those towns also fired warning shots and tear gas to chase away demonstrators who chanted “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom.” At least nine protesters were hurt in the clashes, he said.There were also reports of protests and sit-ins in several other places across the region.Shops, businesses and schools remained shut in Kashmir, and thousands of armed police and paramilitary soldiers patrolled largely deserted streets. In Srinagar, government troops asked people to stay indoors to prevent protests against Indian rule.Separatist politicians and militants reject Indian sovereignty over Kashmir and want to carve out a separate homeland or merge with predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

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