12 Jul 2016

Kashmir clashes leave 30 dead

10:55 am on 12 July 2016

At least 30 people have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir following the shooting of a militant leader, police say.

Burhan Wani, 22, died in a gunfight with the Indian army on Friday, sparking the worst violence in the region for years.

Indian police clash with protesters in Srinagar,11 July, 2016.

Police clash with protesters in Srinagar. Photo: AFP

A weekend of violence left 23 dead, including a policeman, and more deaths were reported yesterday.

More than 200 other people have been injured in the clashes, in which government forces have fired live rounds and tear gas.

Some 800 extra troops are being sent to help restore order. A curfew is in place across much of the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley after a police post was set alight and a military airbase targeted during the latest clashes.

Disputed Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan and has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years, sparking two wars between the countries.

Within the disputed Muslim-majority territory, some militant groups have taken up arms to fight for independence from Indian rule or a merger with Pakistan.

The last bout of serious violence in the region was in the summer of 2010, when more than 100 people died in anti-India protests, which broke out after police shot dead a teenager.

Almost all the dead in the current outbreak of violence are protesters.

The policeman died after his car went into a river in the Jhelum area on Sunday. Police say the vehicle was pushed in by crowds but some accounts say it went into the water after the driver lost control in an attempt to avoid stone-throwing mobs.

Tensions remained high yesterday, with crowds attempting to breach curfew orders.

Hospital volunteers bring in an injured man who was shot during clashes between security forces and protesters in Srinagar.

Hospital volunteers bring in an injured man who was shot during clashes between security forces and protesters in Srinagar. Photo: AFP

Four top separatist leaders released a joint statement in which they called on India's government to "abandon the policy of stopping people's marches by bullets".

The violence has led to the suspension of a popular Hindu religious pilgrimage to the Amarnath temple shrine, which has stranded some 15,000 devotees in the neighbouring region of Jammu, Indian media reported.

More than 2000 pilgrims who were on the way back from the temple have been airlifted out of Kashmir, police officials told the BBC.

Thousands attended Burhan Wani's funeral in his hometown of Tral, about 40km south of Srinagar, on Saturday.

Police stations and military installations were attacked in violent clashes afterwards, with several buildings burned down police said.

The state government has said that it would also investigate reports of excessive police violence towards unarmed protesters.

Rights groups have described the current situation as a state of emergency. Hospitals struggled to cope with wounded protesters and phone and internet services were suspended.

The level of separatist insurgency violence in the region has ebbed and flowed since 1989, but it has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, mainly civilians.

Pakistani Kashmiris protest against the killing of militant leader Burhan Wani.

A march in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, in protest at the killing of militant leader Burhan Wani. Photo: AFP