December 2007 News

Cops clash with Kashmiris protesting Benazir’s killing

28 December 2007
The Daily Times

Islamabad: Second clash forces police to retreat to police station to avoid stone pelting SRINAGAR: Police in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) clashed on Friday with hundreds of stone-throwing demonstrators who were protesting the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, police said. Police used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators who took to the streets in Srinagar before Friday prayers, said police officer Sajad Ahmed. The protesters hurled rocks at police and chanted, “We want freedom” and “Long live Pakistan” when police tried to stop them from holding a demonstration. Many in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region, which is divided between India and Pakistan, want independence from mostly Hindu India or a union with mainly Muslim Pakistan. Second clash: Police and protesters clashed again after a special prayer session for Benazir at Srinagar’s grand mosque. Several hundred worshippers pelted police and paramilitary forces that had taken up positions around the mosque with rocks and stones and police responded with volleys of tear gas. After a 15-minute exchange, police were forced to retreat to a nearby police station due to the intensity of the stone barrage, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene, who witnessed several people wounded on both sides. Police said they had no immediate reports of injuries. Hundreds more protesters then took to the empty streets around the mosque, chanting anti-India slogans. Police had been on alert, fearing disturbances after the region’s main separatist alliance called a strike to protest the killing. “We’re shattered to hear this tragic news. This is a barbaric act of terrorism,” said Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a hard- line separatist leader. “We strongly feel that it’s a conspiracy to weaken Pakistan. In this hour of grief we pray for Pakistan’s stability.” In Srinagar, shops and other businesses closed their doors and roads were largely empty. Authorities canceled all college examinations on Friday. Kashmir is claimed entirely by both India and Pakistan who have fought two of their three wars over the region. More than a dozen militant groups have been fighting in the Indian- controlled side since 1989. More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have died since. ap


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