Sabato, 13 Febbraio 2016 21:11 | Two civilians, rebel killed in Indian Kashmir

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Srinagar - Two civilians were killed and several wounded during protests in the restive Indian-administered Kashmir Sunday, after a gun fight broke out between rebels and government forces, police said.

The gun

battle was triggered after government troops - suspecting the presence of armed rebels - cordoned off the village of Kakpora, some 35km south of the main city of Srinagar.

One suspected militant was killed during the fighting, while a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity that at least 20 protesters who came out of their houses in support of the rebels were hospitalised, many with gun shot wounds.

"One lady died in cross fire near the encounter site, and one protester reportedly died due to tear-smoke shell injury," inspector general of police, Javid Gillani told AFP.

Witnesses however alleged that the woman, university student Shaista Hamid, died after soldiers fired randomly, charging towards a big group of angry protesters while she was standing by outside her home.

Kashmir has been divided between rivals India and Pakistan by a heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the territory in full.

Militants fighting Indian rule of the Himalayan territory enjoy wide support among residents who often come out on to the streets in their support during encounters with government forces.

Several rebel groups have for decades fought an estimated half a million Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or a merger of the region with Pakistan.

The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.

Separatist leaders opposed to Indian rule of the Muslim-majority territory have called for a general strike on Monday to protest Sunday's civilian killings.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training rebels, a charge Islamabad denies, saying it only provides moral and diplomatic support for Kashmiri people's right of self-determination.

On Saturday seven people including two soldiers and five suspected rebels were killed in a fierce gun battle near the LoC.

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