Soldiers kill two in Indian Kashmir: Police

SRINAGAR (AFP) - Indian soldiers opened fire on demonstrators in restive Kashmir on Sunday, killing one person during protests over the shooting of a teenager in a military operation, a police chief said.

Soldiers shot dead a 17-year-old man late Saturday during a military operation to hunt for suspected militants in Markondal village, 25 kilometres north of the main city of Srinagar, the chief said.

Hundreds of villagers gathered to protest the teenager's death early on Sunday, throwing rocks at withdrawing soldiers who opened fire, killing one person and injuring three others, Kashmir's police chief Abdul Gani Mir said.

"The army had laid a cordon during which a firing incident took place. One person was killed," Mr Mir told AFP of the military operation.

Police have launched an investigation into the army's actions to determine what happened in both incidents, he said.

"Police have registered a case against the army," he said.

An uncle of the 17-year-old man said they noticed two private vehicles outside their home late at night. They went outside to investigate, thinking someone was trying to steal their cattle, he said.

"Suddenly the soldiers fired a burst of bullets at us. My nephew was hit in his head and he died on the spot," Nazir Ahmad told AFP by phone.

Security has been stepped up across Indian Kashmir after a series of attacks by militants on security forces in recent months including two last week in Srinagar in which eight soldiers and two policemen were killed.

The attack was one of the deadliest by militants in years and came on the eve of a rare visit to the disputed region by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by a UN monitored line of control but both countries claim the Himalayan region in full and have fought two of their three wars over the territory.

About a dozen armed rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces in Kashmir since 1989 for independence or merger with Pakistan.

The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians dead.

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