Indian tourist dies in occupied Kashmir as protests continue

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SRINAGAR: An Indian tourist was killed during a protest in India-held Kashmir, officials said on Tuesday, as the region shut down for a third day over the killing of civilians and militants in weekend gun battles and protests.

Also, a teenage boy who had been shot by Indian troops on Sunday died in a hospital, triggering protests and clashes in his southern Kashmir village.

The tourist, hailing from India’s Tamil Nadu state, was critically injured last night when a stone thrown at his taxi broke the window and hit his head as he and his parents were on their way back from a resort near western Narbal village, local police official Nazir Ahmed said.

The official said intermittent clashes between protesters and government forces continued all day in Narbal during the shutdown to protest the weekend killings.

The 22-year-old tourist was taken to a hospital in the disputed Himalayan region’s main city of Srinagar, where he died.

Kashmiri leaders challenging India’s sovereignty over Kashmir as well as pro-India politicians condemned his death.

The region’s top elected official, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, called it “sad and heartbreaking”. Top leader opposed to Indian rule over the region Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said in a tweet that he was deeply saddened.

During the past few years, authorities have vigorously campaigned to attract Indian and international visitors to the region as a symbol of normality after the decades-long anti-India armed campaign. However, repeated gunfights, protests, travel warnings by Western governments and media coverage of the violence adversely impacted tourism.

Shops, schools and businesses were shut again on Tuesday to protest the killing of eight militants and six civilians during anti-India protests and fighting with government forces over the weekend.

Meanwhile, a teenage boy wounded on Sunday by the Indian government forces in the southern Shopian area died at a hospital in Srinagar on Tuesday. Five people were killed and dozens more, including the boy, were wounded when Indian troops fired at protesters in Shopian who had been trying to reach the site of the gun battle in which soldiers killed five militants.

As news of his death spread, clashes erupted after villagers took to the streets and attacked a local military camp with stones, police and residents said. At least four people were wounded after Indian troops fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the protesters, they said.

Police and paramilitary soldiers patrolled the areas of Srinagar and enforced a security lockdown.

Internet on cellular phones remained suspended for a third day, a common practice by Indian authorities to make organising protests more difficult.

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