Pakistan police disperse protesters at Kashmir frontier

Pakistani police at the disputed Kashmir frontier with India fired tear gas Monday to disperse villagers demanding freedom for Kashmir at a groundbreaking ceremony with India to exchange aid for victims of the huge Oct. 8 quake.

Hundreds of Pakistani Kashmir villagers at the Rawalakot-Punch crossing broke into a chant, "We want a free Kashmir," and Pakistani police responded by firing tear gas canisters. A couple of shots of gunfire, possibly warning shots, also rang out. The villagers then dispersed and headed away from the border crossing.

Earlier, India began handing over tents, food and medicine to Pakistan as part of Monday's much-heralded opening of their frontier - a mostly symbolic act of cooperation after the quake.

Pakistan Brig. Tahir Naqvi shook hands with Indian Col. Santnu Ghose across a white line painted at the Rawalakot-Punch border crossing set up near the Punch River, and they declared it open for aid exchanges.

Trucks then backed up to the line, about five meters apart, and porters from the Indian side handed the first batch of aid - sacks packed with tents - to counterparts on the Pakistani side, who loaded them on their truck, the AP reports.


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