Four days of deadly clashes between anti-India protesters and government troops have left hospitals in India's portion of Kashmir overwhelmed, with hundreds of wounded patients pouring in, doctors said Wednesday. The violence has left 31 dead and more than 1,400 injured.
One doctor at the region's main government hospital said that staff had performed more eye surgeries in the last three days than they had in three years. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't allowed to talk to reporters.
The violence erupted over the weekend after government troops killed a top leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest rebel group fighting Indian rule in the troubled Himalayan region. The dead included one policeman. Hundreds of policemen have also been injured.
Troops used live ammunition and pellet guns to try and quell the angry, rock-throwing crowds that gathered across the region in defiance of a curfew imposed by Indian authorities.
At least 300 injured civilians, most of them wounded by bullets and pellets, have been admitted to Sri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, in the region's main city of Srinagar.
Kashmir has been beleaguered since 1947, when India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain but disagreed on which country would get the Himalayan region. The two rivals have fought two of their three subsequent wars over Kashmir, and each administers a portion of the region.
On the Indian side of the Muslim-majority region, most people resent the Indian troop presence and back rebel demands for independence or a merger with neighboring Pakistan. Since the 1990s, more than 68,000 people have been killed in Kashmir's uprising against Indian rule and the subsequent Indian military crackdown.