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Police, protesters clash in Kashmir over women's deaths

By Sheikh Mushtaq
/ Source: Reuters

By Sheikh Mushtaq

Police and demonstrators clashed in Kashmir Saturday during anti-India protests fueled by accusations that security forces had raped and murdered two Muslim women, police and witnesses said.

Dozens of people were hurt after police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse protesters who hurled rocks at security forces and ransacked a hospital and government offices.

Residents said the two women were abducted, raped and killed by security forces in south Kashmir Friday.

Indian authorities denied the incident and said the women drowned in a stream. A police statement said a postmortem conducted revealed no marks of violence.

Witnesses said thousands of demonstrators chanting "We want freedom, punish the killers," had massed in Shopian town, 60 km (37 miles) south of Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital.

The disputed Himalayan region has been intermittently rocked by protests against Indian rule since last year.

Indian security forces fighting separatist militants in Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, have been accused in the past of human rights violations, including rape and extrajudicial killings.

Authorities deny any systematic violations and say all reports are investigated and the guilty punished.

More than 47,000 people have been killed in the region since discontent against New Delhi's rule turned into a rebellion in 1989. Separatists put the toll at 100,000.

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