At least one civilian was killed and dozens of others injured in protests against Indian rule in occupied Kashmir that erupted following a gunbattle between rebels and government forces, officials and witnesses said.
Police said the gunbattle began after Indian soldiers and police cordoned off southern Arwani village, and militants hiding there began firing in an attempt to break through the siege, The Associated Press reported.
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As the fighting raged, thousands of people from neighbouring villages ignored government orders to stay away and marched to Arwani in an attempt to help the trapped rebels escape.
A police officer said the protesters tried to storm the site of the gunbattle, leading to fierce clashes at several places around the village.
The officer spoke on a condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.
Witnesses said government forces fired bullets, shotgun pellets and tear gas to disperse the rock-throwing protesters, killing a young man and wounding at least 40 others.
A police statement said the man died after being hit by a stray bullet.
One injured civilian was in a critical condition. There was no word on any casualties suffered by the militants or Indian troops.
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Clashes were also reported in several other areas of southern Kashmir in a show of solidarity with rebels who have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989.
Earlier Thursday, authorities blocked mobile and internet services in some areas of southern Kashmir to stop activists from organising anti-India protests.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2016.