SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir were under curfew and businesses and schools were shut Monday to contain anti-India protests that spilled into the streets overnight after soldiers killed four civilians and a rebel.
Militants fired at a checkpoint in southern Shopian area Sunday night and a shootout with soldiers followed, army Col. Rajesh Kalia said.
A rebel and three young civilian associates of the rebel were killed, and a rifle was recovered from the site, Kalia said. The body of a fourth civilian was recovered later. Locals said the civilians were killed in cold blood.
Hundreds of people spilled into streets, shouting slogans against India’s army and demanding the end of New Delhi’s rule over Kashmir. Clashes erupted in several places in the area dotted with apple orchards as police and paramilitary soldiers tried to stop the protesters.
Police were cautious in describing the three slain youths as militant associates and said they were investigating the incident.
The army told police soldiers had signaled a car to stop at a temporary checkpoint outside a military camp, top police officer S.P. Vaid said.
“The car didn’t stop and instead fire came from the vehicle which soldiers retaliated,” Vaid said about the army’s report to the police. He said three young men were found dead inside the car while the militant’s body was lying outside at some distance. The fourth civilian was found dead in a separate car at some distance.
Kashmir is divided between Pakistan and India with both nations claiming the region entirely.
Rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989, demanding the Himalayan region be united under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. Most people in the portion governed by India support the rebels’ cause.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.