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14 People Killed in Indian Kashmir in Deadliest Violence for Months

  • Anjana Pasricha

In Indian Kashmir 14 people have been killed and 45 injured in some of the deadliest violence witnessed in the region since mass demonstrations against Indian rule erupted three months ago.

Officials say several people were killed when police fired on hundreds of Muslim protesters who set fire to a Christian missionary school and some government buildings in Tangmarg and Budgam districts in Indian Kashmir.

Officials say the protests were partly fueled by reports on an Iranian state-run channel that a Quran had been damaged in the United States during the weekend.

The protests in Kashmir prompted the U.S. Ambassador in New Delhi, Timothy Roemer, to reiterate that the United States did not support any such actions against the Quran. "I strongly condemn such acts as disrespectful, intolerant, divisive and unrepresentative of American values," he said. "The deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act. "

Anti-India demonstrations erupted in other towns as thousands of protesters defied a strict curfew imposed over the weekend, and took to the streets hurling stones at security forces. A policeman was also killed in the clashes.

Kashmir's top police official, Kuldeep Khoda, said the protests were widespread. "Force had to be also used at several places to disperse the crowds. In today's incidents firing from the weapons or from pellet-action guns was resorted to at about a dozen places in which 14 personnel, civilians died and 45 were injured in various clashes," he said.

Police accused a hardline separatist leader of stoking the violence.

In New Delhi, top Cabinet ministers met to discuss how to lower tensions in Kashmir. The government appealed to people to give up violence, and said efforts are being made to start a dialogue with Kashmiri leaders. But the government made no announcement regarding the withdrawal of a tough security law, which Kashmiris are demanding.

Tensions have flared in Kashmir since June with tens of thousands of Kashmiris holding mass rallies demanding an end to Indian rule. More than 80 people, mostly civilians have been killed as security forces have tried to quell the protests.

Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan, is India's only Muslim-majority region. More than 60,000 people have died since a separatist insurgency erupted in 1989.

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