Indian firing, explosion kill 14 in held Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Violence across India-held Kashmir (IHK) left at least 14 people dead, police and military officials said.
The victims included six who were killed when an explosion occurred among a crowd protesting against Indian occupation.
Thousands of demonstrators, some hurling stones, marched on a village in southern Kulgam town where Indian forces were battling an unknown number of armed Kashmiris.
Three Kashmiri fighters were shot dead in the exchange but a subsequent explosion at the scene killed five demonstrators, claimed inspector general of police Swayam Prakash Pani.
“Protesters ignored warnings and soon overwhelmed the site, where five died after being hit when leftover explosives went off,” he claimed.
However, residents said Indian soldiers blasted the home with explosives while fighting armed Kashmiris.
As the fighting raged, anti-India protesters tried to reach the site of standoff. They threw stones at Indian forces hoping to help the trapped Kashmiri fighters escape. Indian forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the protesters, leaving many injured.
Kashmiri leaders called for a general strike on Monday to protest the killings.
A sixth anti-India protester injured in the explosion later died in a hospital in Srinagar.
At least 30 others were wounded in clashes with police, some seriously.
Mobile phone services were suspended in the area as protests spread, including to Srinagar where police used tear gas to disperse angry crowds.
Elsewhere, fighting near the Line of Control also left three soldiers and two unidentified Kash­miri fighters dead.
The troops died in a fierce encounter with heavily armed men, claimed Indian defence spokesman Lt Col Devender Anand.
Pakistan reacted sharply to the killing of Kashmiris in occupied territory. Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal in a tweet said, “Bloodbath in Kulgam – 8 martyred with scores injured”.
Earlier, he tweeted, “Barely 15 hrs after brutally killing a pregnant woman in Pulwama, Indian forces embark on yet another killing spree in Kulgam – curfew imposed, internet suspended”.
Pakistan has repeatedly called for resolving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
After years of peaceful protest, more and more Kashmiris are once again picking up arms as the Indian authorities have refused to consider their demand for the right to self-determination.
India has some 500,000 troops deployed in IHK.
Popular uprising has been growing since 2016 when a charismatic young Kashmir fighter was shot dead by Indian occupation forces. More than 100 peaceful Kashmiris died in subsequent weeks of protest.
This year at least 186 armed Kashmiris, 80 anti-Indian protesters and 75 Indian forces personnel have died in clashes across IHK.