Death toll reaches 23 in Kashmir unrest over killing of rebel

The death toll rose to 23 in India-administered Kashmir on Monday following protests and clashes in the Himalayan region over the killing of a militant leader.

The unrest began after security forces shot dead a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group on Friday.

More than 200 people were injured, half of them protestors who were wounded after government troops opened fire and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse angry mobs.

"It is deplorable that excessive and unlawful force was used against the civilians who were protesting against the killing of Burhan Wani," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said.

He also expressed "serious concern" over the continued detention of Kashmiri leaders and urged India to fulfill its human rights obligations.

The Himalayan region is divided between Pakistan and India, but both claim it all and have fought two wars over it since 1947.

Kashmir is a Muslim-majority area and has been gripped by a secessionist movement since the 1980s. Nearly 44,000 people have been killed in violence related to militancy in the region, according to estimates.

A total of 22 civilians had died from the weekend protests, with four more people succumbing to their injuries overnight, police officials said.

One officer also drowned when protestors pushed an armoured vehicle into a river in the Anantnag district on Sunday.

A curfew was in place in all of the 10 districts of Kashmir valley. Shops, banks, schools and government offices remained closed as paramilitary troops patrolled villages and towns.

“Oppressive measures such as these cannot deter the valiant people of Jammu and Kashmir from their demand to exercise their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions,” Sharif said.

The Security Council in 1948 told India and Pakistan to resolve the issue through peaceful means by letting the people of Kashmir decide through a referendum which country they want to join.

India accuses Pakistan of sheltering rebels and helping them cross over to carry out attacks on Indian soil. Islamabad says it provides only diplomatic and political support to the population of Kashmir.

Last update: Mon, 11/07/2016 - 12:15

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