Curfew in Kashmir as killings heighten tensions

AFP , Thursday 14 Mar 2013

Curfew administered in Kashmir after five paramilitary police and two civilians are killed, following attack by pro-Pakistan Kashmiri militant group

Indian-administered Kashmir's main city was under curfew Thursday after the killing of five paramilitary police and the death of two civilians cranked up tensions in the disputed region.

Kashmir's inspector general of police Abdul Gani Mir said a round-the-clock curfew order had been imposed in the city of Srinagar while there were similar restrictions in other towns and villages in the Kashmir Valley.

"It is an indefinite curfew," Mir told AFP in Srinagar where major roads were blocked with steel barricades and coils of razor wire.

Schools and government offices were closed while the University of Kashmir postponed all examinations which had been scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

A pro-Pakistan Kashmiri militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for an attack Wednesday when two militants killed five members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) before being shot dead themselves.

India's Interior Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told lawmakers Thursday the attackers appeared to be of Pakistani origin, reiterating earlier accusations from the government.

"The authenticity of the claim (by Hizbul Mujahideen) is being verified. From their bodies they appeared to be from Pakistan," the minister said.

Shinde said investigators had recovered two diaries containing Pakistani names and phone numbers.

Mir also said "medicines, diaries and other material found on the bodies of the militants showed they are from Pakistan".

However the foreign ministry in Islamabad denied any Pakistani link to the attack.

"We feel that this trend of making irresponsible statements and knee-jerk reactions by senior Indian government functionaries have the potential of undermining the efforts made by both sides to normalise relations," it said.

Wednesday's attack, the deadliest in Srinagar for nearly five years, has further heightened tensions in Kashmir following the execution last month of a local separatist over a deadly 2001 attack on the national parliament in Delhi.

A 24-year-old man was shot dead on Wednesday evening in Srinagar, with the paramilitary police saying that they responded after one of their vehicles had come under attack from rock-throwing protesters.

Witnesses however said the victim was shot from a moving armoured vehicle while he was crossing a road in his neighbourhood.

A 70-year-old local man also died after he was allegedly run over by a CRPF vehicle late Wednesday evening. Police have registered a case against the driver.

Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan along a UN-monitored line of control, but both claim it in full and have fought two wars over its control.

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