One more civilian killed in Kashmir clashes with security forces

Srinagar, April 15 (IANS) A civilian was killed and five more were injured on Friday as angry residents clashed with security forces amid simmering anger over four similar deaths since Tuesday in a tense but curfewed Kashmir Valley.

A police officer told IANS that the protestors were demonstrating outside an army camp in Natnusa village of border district Kupwara when soldiers opened fire to stop them from marching in.

Five protestors were injured, the officer said, adding one of the them died in a hospital later. Three critically injured shifted to Srinagar.

Police identified the deceased as Mohammed Aarif, a resident of the north Kashmir district which has been at the epicentre of fresh unrest in the valley.

The demonstrators were protesting against deaths of four civilians in firing and tear gas shelling by security forces since Tuesday.

Strict restrictions were imposed across the valley amid protests and shut-down call by separatist groups against the civilian killings, triggering fresh unrest in Kashmir.

Protests were also held in other parts of the valley even as the streets were patrolled by gun-toting police and paramilitary personnel to ensure prohibitory orders were not violated and peace is maintained in more volatile parts of Srinagar, north and south of the valley.

As a precautionary measure and to prevent trouble-mongers from spreading rumours, cellphone internet connectivity remained snapped for the second day.

A senior district administration officer in Srinagar told IANS that the restrictions were put in place in parts of old Srinagar city. Curfew was also imposed in the main business hub of Lal Chowk.

Restrictions were also imposed in Handwara and Kupwara towns of Kupwara district and Pulwama town in south Kashmir.

Separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik, continued to be house arrested.

There was a near-total response to the shutdown call as shops, schools, colleges, offices and other businesses in areas where restrictions had not been imposed remained closed. Public transport was also off the roads in the valley.

The latest unrest in the valley, which has been battling a separatist campaign since late 1980s, has thrown a challenge at the new BJP-PDP coalition government headed by Mehbooba Mufti, the first woman chief minister of the state.

The trouble erupted after allegations that an army soldier molested a college girl in Handwara on Tuesday. The army has denied it.

A video was circulated the next day showing a girl denying she was molested.

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