Thousands protest in Kashmir over killing of schoolboy
SRINAGAR (Reuters) - Thousands of people took to streets in Srinagar on Saturday accusing government forces of killing a schoolboy, witnesses said, an incident that may escalate anti-India protests that have rocked the region this week.
The growing protests and anger, if not checked, could hurt fresh efforts to improve relations between India and Pakistan who claim the region in full but rule in parts and have fought two wars over Kashmir.
The officials of the two countries met on Friday to decide the agenda for high-level bilateral talks proposed by India over a year after the terror attacks on Mumbai.
"Blood for blood, we want freedom," the protesters shouted, as they marched with the body of 16-year-old Zahid Farooq in Nishat area of Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital.
Witnesses said Farooq was killed on Friday evening when security forces opened fire on a group of boys without provocation.
Police said they are investigating.
Kashmir's chief minister Omar Abdullah has ordered a probe into the death, the sixth in the past month that locals have blamed on government forces.
"Incidents of unprovoked and innocent killings will not be tolerated and whosoever is involved in such killings will be brought to book," Abdullah said in a statement.
Police and paramilitary soldiers extended a curfew in most parts of Srinagar for a third straight day on Saturday and arrested dozens of activists in a bid to calm rising tension.
At least 400 people have been injured in pitched street battles between government forces and groups of rock-pelting Muslim protesters over the past three days.
The rise in tension in Kashmir is coinciding with a spike in violence by militant groups, most of them Pakistan-based.
At least six people including three militants and two security force personnel died in a gun battle and a rebel attack on Friday, police said.
Officials say more than 47,000 people have been killed since simmering discontent against Indian rule broke out in 1989.
(Reporting by Sheikh Mushtaq)
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