2 more deaths occur in Kashmir as anti-India protests endure

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Two more people died in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Friday, police said, as anti-India protests and clashes with government forces persisted despite a strict curfew in place for a 14th straight day.

One man died from injuries suffered earlier and another man died in fresh firing, said a police officer who was not authorized to speak to media and provided the information on condition of anonymity.

Authorities tried to prevent protests by barring people from Friday prayers in most of the big mosques but they prayed in small neighborhood mosques instead, and the protests and clashes began afterward.

Kashmir’s largest anti-India street protests in recent years erupted after government forces killed a top rebel leader on July 8. At least 48 civilians, mostly teens and young men, have been killed as government forces fired live ammunition and pellets. A policeman was killed after protesters pushed his vehicle into a river. About 2,000 civilians and 1,500 police and soldiers have been injured in the clashes.

On Friday, residents defied curfew in southern areas of Awantipora and Kakpora but were stopped by the police and paramilitary soldiers, leading to clashes, police said.

Protests were reported from several other places in the region.

Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region, is divided between India and Pakistan, but both claim it in its entirety. Most people in the Indian-held part resent the presence of hundreds of thousands of Indian troops and want independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Since 1989, more than 68,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising against Indian rule and the subsequent Indian military crackdown.