At least 2 people shot dead in clashes with Indian police in disputed Kashmir region

Press TV- At least two people have been killed after Indian soldiers clashed with demonstrators in the Indian-controlled Kashmir region.

Some 200 protesters hurled stone at the troopers as their convoy was passing through Ganovpora village in southern Shopian Hill District, one of the districts of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting them to open fire on Saturday, police said in a statement, adding that two civilians succumbed to their shot wounds.

According to the police statement, a number of other demonstrators sustained injuries, one critically, and were taken to nearby hospitals. Villagers put the number of the wounded at nine.

“The army was constrained to open fire in self-defense,” the statement added.

As news of the killings spread, hundreds hit the streets chanting anti-India slogans and calling for an end to Indian rule over the disputed region of Kashmir. Separatist groups demand that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent state, a view that is widespread even among civilians in the region.

Both India and Pakistan lay claim to the entire Kashmir region and have fought three wars over the Himalayan territory. Each controls only parts of the area, however. In 2003, the two countries reached a ceasefire agreement but sporadic clashes continue.

The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has been monitoring the border for decades.

Recently, at least 21 people were killed, most of them in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, where Indian authorities accuse elements supported by Pakistan of involvement in rebel attacks. Islamabad has always denied any support but reiterates it backs the popular drive in Muslim-dominated Kashmir for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Each side summoned diplomats from the other country at the time to protest the provocations that have renewed hostilities across the border. That came after Indians said two soldiers and two civilians had been killed by mortars fired from the Pakistani side.

The decades-long conflict in Kashmir has left some 70,000 people killed.