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Firefight killed four in IHK

18 October, 2018

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SRINAGAR: A firefight near a 14th century Muslim shrine killed at least four in the capital of Indian-held Kashmir Wednesday and sparked protests in the city, police said.

While deadly violence has increased in recent months across the restive region, such shootouts are rare in Srinagar.

Police said three fighters and a police officer were killed in the battle in streets near the Khanqah-e-Moula shrine in Srinagar’s Old City. The clash sparked a showdown between protesters and police, who fired tear gas at stone-throwing demonstrators shouting anti-India slogans. City shops and schools shut as news of the deaths spread.

Indian government forces cordoned off the Fateh Kadal locality, close to the shrine, after they received information about armed fighters hiding in a house, a police statement said. Witnesses said the gunfire broke out after soldiers knocked at the door of a house and took away a young man. “We don’t know where he is and now we hear (police) say he was a militant,” the young man’s brother Asif Nabi told reporters outside his home, which was burned down in the clash.

As the firefight wound down, officers turned on journalists reporting at the site of the encounter, injuring at least one reporter and two cameramen. “They (police) just lunged at us and started beating us with sticks and then fired in the air. The empty cartridges hit my head,” Asif Qureshi, a journalist with an Indian news station said.

The capital has largely been spared the violence which frequently breaks out between anti-India fighters and government forces across the occupied region. India has some 500,000 troops deployed in Held Kashmir, where Kashmiri groups demand independence or a merger with Pakistan. Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.

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