Seven killed in disputed Kashmir in cross-border shelling

Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard during restrictions in Lal chowk area of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, on July 8, 2017.
Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard during restrictions in Lal chowk area of Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, on July 8, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

MUZAFFARABAD/SRINAGAR (REUTERS) – Seven people were killed on Saturday (July 8)  in the disputed Kashmir region in cross-border shelling by both Pakistan and India, officials on both sides of the frontier said.

The violence occurred as protesters clashed with police in Indian-controlled Kashmir as they marked the first anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani, a militant killed by the army after urging the region’s mainly Muslim population to rise up against Indian forces.

Indian authorities on Friday shut down the internet in Kashmir and sealed off his home town after Wani’s supporters said they would stage demonstrations to mark the anniversary.

On Saturday a Reuters witness saw protesters wearing face masks throwing stones at police in downtown Srinagar, the summer capital of the region. Police retaliated with teargas and stones thrown using slingshots.

Five people died on Pakistan’s side of the disputed border and 10 were wounded in cross-border shelling, local police officials told Reuters.

Pakistan’s government said it summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh over what it called “unprovoked ceasefire violations”.

The Indian army’s defence spokesman said two civilians were killed on its side of the frontier and two injured due to shelling by Pakistani troops. The army responded in kind to the Pakistani shelling, he said.

The South Asian neighbours have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.

India blames Pakistan for pushing in militants from its part of Kashmir to carry out attacks, a charge denied by Islamabad.

India has been struggling to restore normality in Kashmir, deploying thousands more soldiers after Wani’s killing appeared to breathe new life into a 28-year armed revolt that had ebbed, with little international attention.

A Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant commander, whom the US  last week added to its list of global terrorists, had called for a strike on Saturday to mark Wani’s killing.

Syed Salahuddin’s United Jihad Council, an umbrella body of anti-India militants based in Pakistan-held Kashmir, has vowed to continue its struggle to liberate Kashmir.