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Sunday Apr 05 2020

At least 9 martyred in occupied Kashmir violence amid coronavirus lockdown

Kashmiri residents protest against the Indian security forces during restrictions after the scrapping of the region's special constitutional status in Srinagar, Kashmir, August 10, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/Files

SRINAGAR: At least nine Kashmiris were martyred in two incidents in Indian-occupied Kashmir, authorities said Sunday, as a lockdown was enforced to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Three Indian soldiers were also killed.

Occupied Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region in the Himalayas, had already been under a long-running curfew after India on August 5 scrapped its special status as a semi-autonomous state.

Indian army spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia early Sunday confirmed the martyrdom of five Kashmiris in the northern Keran area close to the Line of Control (LoC). Several soldiers were critically injured, he added.

The fighting came within 24 hours of another gun battle in the southern Kulgam area that had left four dead. Police had said all four were from the local area.

Occupied Kashmir has waged a three-decade-long rebellion against Indian rule with tens of thousands of lives — mostly civilians — lost in the conflict. The conditions have become dire after India's August 5 move, following which several local leaders were imprisoned or put under house arrest and a communications and media blackout ensued.