SRINAGAR, India (AP) — The death toll in Kashmir rose to 15 Sunday as clashes between Indian troops and protesters continued despite a curfew imposed in the disputed Himalayan region to suppress anti-India violence following the killing of a popular rebel commander.
Six civilians who had been injured after Indian troops fired on rock-throwing protesters died overnight while a man was killed on Sunday as hundreds of people defied the curfew and clashed with troops in southern Pulwama town, a police official said on condition of anonymity becasue he wasn't authorized to speak to reporters. Eight people were killed on Saturday.
The massive anti-India protests erupted after Burhan Wani, chief of operations of Hizbul Mujahideen, Kashmir's largest rebel group, was killed fighting with Indian troops on Friday. Two rebel comrades of Wani were also killed.
Indian troops used live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas to try and control the angry crowds, police said. More than 100 civilians have so far been injured in the clashes.
Police intelligence chief Shiv M. Sahai said that protesters attacked several police and paramilitary posts in the region. Some 90 government troops have also been injured, he said. Thousands of government forces in riot gear have fanned out across towns and villages in Kashmir.
Wani, in his early 20s, had become the iconic face of militancy in Kashmir over the last five years. His video clips and pictures were widely circulated among young people in Kashmir.
Inspector-General Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani described his killing as the "biggest success against militants" in recent years.
Indian officials, fearing that the killing could lead to violent protests in the already troubled region, have also indefinitely suspended an annual Hindu pilgrimage to a mountain cave which draws about half a million people each year.
Cellphone services in southern parts of Kashmir remained suspended for a second day and mobile internet was blocked in rest of the region to prevent anti-India demonstrators from mobilizing.
Shops, businesses and government offices remained closed. Authorities also postponed school and college examinations and suspended rail services.
Wani was a small-town boy and the son of a school principal. Handsome and media savvy, he was widely credited for reviving armed militancy in Indian Kashmir in recent years, using social media like Facebook to reach out to young Kashmiri men.
Most people in Kashmir have long resented the Indian presence, and support rebel demands for an independent Kashmir or a merging with Pakistan.
More than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the subsequent Indian military crackdown.