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Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 15:22 GMT
Kashmir protesters shot dead
Kashmir protest
Police grapple with a protester in Srinagar
Four civilians have been killed and 17 others wounded after Indian troops opened fire on demonstrators in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Police said more than 1,000 people gathered at Haigam, 40 km north of the state's summer capital, Srinagar.


Security forces opened fire after protesters pelted stones at them

Police official
They were protesting against the alleged killing of a pro-independence activist, Jalil Ahmed Shah, in police custody on Wednesday.

Mr Shah was a deputy district commander of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which suspended its militant activities six years ago.

Witnesses said women and children blocked the road at Haigam, chanting pro-freedom and pro-Islamic slogans as an army convoy passed by.

"Security forces opened fire after protesters pelted stones at them," a police official said.

Four people died in the shooting and reports say at least one of the victims was a woman.

The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says the death toll could rise as the wounds of some of the injured were serious.

There has not yet been any comment from the Indian army.

Arrests

Protests were also held in Srinagar where reports say 20 people, including the daughter of a former Indian home minister, were arrested.

Mehbooba Mufti argues with securitymen
Mehbooba Mufti was arrested as she led protests
Mehbooba Mufti, a former member of the state legislature and daughter of Mufti Mohammad Syed, was detained after she marched through central Srinagar with more than 100 supporters.

A spokesman for the JKLF said the Indian authorities had arrested Mr Shah a couple of days ago and returned his body on Thursday.

The JKLF is demanding a formal investigation into the killing.

An Indian Government ceasefire is currently in place in Kashmir, as part of a peace initiative.

But despite the truce, violence has continued with militant groups - who rejected the ceasefire - targetting security forces.

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See also:

04 Feb 01 | South Asia
Sikh anger at Kashmir killings
24 May 00 | South Asia
Kashmir separatist on hunger strike
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