Asia-Pacific

Kashmir protesters clash with security forces

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Residents in Kashmir's restive Soura district of Srinagar have hurled stones at paramilitary police, who responded with several rounds of tear gas.

Security forces have used tear gas against stone-throwing local residents in Indian Kashmir's main city of Srinagar after a third straight week of protests.

Paramilitary police tried to enter the restive Soura district, which has emerged as a centre of the protests, as hundreds of locals staged a march against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to withdraw autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir.

Posters appeared overnight this week in Srinagar, the Muslim-majority region's main city, calling for a march to the office of the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to protest against India's decision.

Kashmiri men hold placards and shout pro-freedom slogans during a protest after Friday prayers on the outskirts of Srinagar.
Kashmiri men hold placards and shout pro-freedom slogans during a protest after Friday prayers on the outskirts of Srinagar.
AP

This was the first such call by separatists seeking Kashmir's secession from India.

India's move was accompanied by travel and communication restrictions in Kashmir that are still largely in place, although some landlines were restored last week.

In a narrow lane of Soura, blocked like many others with rocks and sheets of metal, residents hurled stones at the paramilitary police to stop them moving into an area around the local mosque, Jinab Sahib, which had earlier been packed for Friday prayers.

The police responded with several rounds of tear gas and chilli grenades but were beaten back by dozens of stone-pelting men. Some men suffered pellet injuries.

The locals said the security forces had been repeatedly trying to move into Soura, often using tear gas and pellets.

Kashmiri Muslims shout slogans during a protest in Srinagar.
Kashmiri Muslims shout slogans during a protest in Srinagar.
EPA

"We are neither safe at home, nor outside," said Rouf, who did not want to give his full name. He had rubbed salt into his face to counteract the effects of tear gas.

US President Donald Trump plans to discuss Kashmir when he meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in France this weekend, a senior US administration official said on Thursday.

Trump, who has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan, will press Modi on how he plans to calm regional tensions after the withdrawal of Kashmir's autonomy, and stress the need for dialogue, the official said.

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