Violence across held Kashmir left at least 14 people dead Sunday, police and military officials said, including six civilians killed when an explosion detonated among a crowd protesting against Indian rule. Thousands of demonstrators, some hurling stones, marched on a village in southern Kulgam town where Indian government forces were battling an unknown number of armed fighters.
Three alleged freedom fighters were martyred in the exchange but a subsequent explosion at the scene killed five demonstrators, said inspector-general of police Swayam Prakash Pani. "Protestors ignored warnings and soon overwhelmed the site, where five died after being hit when leftover explosives went off," he told AFP.
A sixth civilian injured in the explosion later died in a hospital in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-held Kashmir. At least 30 others were wounded in clashes with police, some seriously. Mobile telephone services were suspended in the area as protests spread, including to held Srinagar where police used tear gas to disperse angry crowds.
Elsewhere, fighting near the de facto border dividing the contested Himalayan region between India and Pakistan also left three soldiers and two unknown fighters dead. The troops died in "a fierce encounter with heavily armed intruders", said Indian defence spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Devender Anand. Many in Kashmir support freedom fighters who have been fighting for decades for independence or a merger with Pakistan, which like India also claims the territory in full. India has some 500,000 troops deployed in held Kashmir.