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Thousands Defy Curfew in Indian Kashmir

Thousands of people in Indian-controlled Kashmir defied a curfew Friday and join anti-Indian demonstrations.

In the northern town of Baramulla, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse nearly 4,000 demonstrators. In Kakapora in the south, clashes between police and protesters injured at least eight people, including five policemen.

Police, paramilitary forces and army troops have been trying to enforce a strict curfew in Kashmir aimed at quelling weeks of violent street protests, in which at least 16 people have been killed.

Indian authorities prevented residents from worshipping at Kashmir's main mosques Friday, fearing further violence. Troops reportedly allowed Muslims to gather at smaller mosques.

Authorities later temporarily lifted the curfew to allow residents to celebrate the Muslim festival of "Shab-e-Miraj," which commemorates the Prophet Muhammad's night journey to heaven.

Also Friday, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said India must stop restricting journalists in Indian Kashmir, who say they are not allowed to cover the government crackdown on protests.

In statements e-mailed to CPJ, several media groups in Kashmir have complained that the government has virtually banned the local media from covering the situation.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in its entirety by both Muslim insurgents have been fighting for independence from India or a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan for more than 20 years. Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.

The two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two wars over the Himalayan region.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.