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Three protesters die in Indian Kashmir as toll tops 100

Agence France Presse - September 18, 2010

Srinagar, India Three protesters were killed Saturday as fresh anti-India demonstrations shook Indian Kashmir, bringing the number of civilian deaths in a wave of unrest in the Muslim-majority region to over 100.

Two young men were killed and four others injured when Indian security forces opened fire on hundreds of people who tried to block a key highway and pelted stones at security forces, a police spokesman said.

He said the incident took place in Palhalan village, north of Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir, where a two-decade revolt has been underway against New Delhi's rule.

"We now have two people who are dead, we were forced to open fire because of the violence," the spokesman said.

However, a resident said the protest had been peaceful. "They didn't even try to disperse the protest with tear gas or a baton charge. They fired directly without any provocation," Ghulam Ahmed Tantray told AFP by telephone from the village.

Another man was killed in Anantag, south of Srinagar, when police fired at demonstrators who started pelting stones as authorities retrieved the body of a man who drowned Monday after police allegedly chased him into a river.

"Security forces had to open fire to quell the violent demonstration," a police officer told AFP from Anantag.

Authorities also reported another young protester died in hospital Saturday after being injured earlier in the week when security forces fired on stone-hurling protesters in Srinagar.

So far, 102 protesters and bystanders including children have been killed since June, mostly by security forces firing on demonstrators who were pelting stones, pieces of wood and concrete, according to an AFP tally. One policeman has also died.

The nearly daily popular protests are the largest since the armed revolt against Indian rule erupted in Kashmir in 1989.

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