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Clashes, Low Voter Turnout in Indian Kashmir

Few voters in Indian-controlled Kashmir have defied a separatist boycott of India's national election, with protesters clashing with police in parts of the disputed Himalayan region.

Demonstrators threw stones at security forces in the Baramulla area Wednesday, the third day of voting in Kashmir. A bomb blast at a polling station in the same district reportedly injured at least one paramilitary soldier.

Separatists have called on Kashmiris to boycott India's five week parliamentary election and voter turnout in the region is estimated to be as low as 20 percent. The vote has been marred by violence with suspected militants killing local leaders as a warning to residents not to take part in the election.

Witnesses say in the towns of Sopore and Bandipore Wednesday, protesters kept villagers from heading to polls, with crowds attacking booths, injuring at least four security personnel.



Thousands of police and paramilitary soldiers are deployed across Indian-controlled Kashmir to provide security during what is being called the world's largest democratic exercise. India has more than 800 million registered voters who will be selecting members of the lower house of parliament.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in full by both. Since 1989, various Muslim separatist groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from Hindu-majority India or a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two wars over the Himalayan region since gaining independence from Britain in 1947. Thousands of people have been killed in the insurgency.

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