Soldiers fired live bullets and shotgun pellets on protesters who helped rebels escape two separate sieges by Indian troops, authorities in India-administered Kashmir say.
Indian troops and police shot dead a civilian and wounded at least 70 protesters in clashes in India-administered Kashmir on Wednesday as protesters helped rebels escape two separate sieges by Indian soldiers, police and hospital authorities said.
Thousands of villagers poured onto roads on Wednesday as two suspected rebels fought a gun battle with Indian soldiers from inside a house in the Kulgam area of Kashmir Valley.
Protesters pelted Indian troops with stones to give the fighters cover to escape, they said.
Fifty people were taken to a local hospital after Indian forces fired shotgun pellets and live bullets to push the protesters back, witnesses and hospital officials told AFP news agency.
"The house was blown up but the militants escaped in the confusion. No dead bodies were found in the debris," a top police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Youth identified as Sajad Ahmad Parray, a resident of Badrihama Shopian who was critically injured during clashes near encounter site at , Shopian succumbed to his injuries. Many injured.(Mushtaq-ul-Islam) #Kashmir pic.twitter.com/Ls5Yuvz9yz— The Kashmir Press (@TheKashmirPress) May 29, 2019
Rare for rebels to escape
While protests in support of the surrounded rebels have increased on the Indian-administered region of the divided territory in recent years, it is rare for rebels to escape.
Rebel groups fighting the 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed there demand independence or a merger with Pakistan.
The police officer said however that only three people were wounded, one with a bullet and two with pellets in their eyes.
"Scratches cannot be considered injuries," he said, to explain the discrepancy in numbers.
A hundred people have been injured in shooting by Indian forces in #Kashmir today. So far. Reports say many shot in eyes with pellet guns. Even by our terrible standards, this is insane.— najeeb mubarki (@najeebmubarki) May 29, 2019
Hundreds of villagers also clashed with Indian forces later in Shopian district after soldiers laid siege to a residential area looking for rebels.
A local police official said one man was killed and another 20 people were wounded in firing by Indian troops as a gunfight raged between suspected rebels and Indian soldiers that also left a militant dead.
Clashes between rebels fighting Indian rule in Kashmir and Indian troops occur almost daily. More than 90 rebels have been killed so far this year.
Residents from nearby villages often throng the streets to help rebels by hurling stones at Indian soldiers.
Kashmir was divided between India and Pakistan after their independence in 1947.
Tens of thousands have died in an uprising launched three decades ago, most of them civilians.