SRINAGAR // Government troops fired at thousands of activists protesting Indian rule over the country's portion of Kashmir today, injuring six people in persistent violence that has left 33 people dead over the past seven weeks. The top elected official in the predominantly Muslim state, Omar Abdullah, was in New Delhi to meet with the prime minister Manmohan Singh and the home minister P Chidambaram and discuss steps to defuse the wave of unrest.
The recent tension in the Himalayan region - divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both - is reminiscent of the late 1980s, when protests against New Delhi's rule sparked an armed conflict. The conflict has left more than 68,000 people dead, mostly civilians. Clashes today between Kashmiri Muslim protesters and government forces in the southern towns of Bijbehara and Arwani injured at least six people.
The death toll in seven weeks of clashes rose to 33, including 10 at the weekend. Two young men, who were injured in clashes with government forces over the weekend, died of bullet and tear gas shell injuries in a hospital last night in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's main city, a police officer said. Kashmiri Muslims have held massive street protests, attacked security camps with rocks and burnt police stations in the past seven weeks in the region. Government forces have responded by using live ammunition and tear gas to break the protests against Indian rule.
The mostly Muslim region, where resistance to rule by predominantly Hindu India is strong, has been under a rolling curfew and strikes after anti-India street protests and clashes surged last month. * AP