Thousands of Kashmiris protest killing of four boys

Thousands of Kashmiris took to the streets shouting anti-India slogans in India's portion of the divided region Thursday to protest the fatal shooting of four boys by the army.

The demonstrators accused security forces of cordoning off a children's playground and firing indiscriminately Wednesday in Dodipora village during a hunt for a militant suspect. Dodipora is about 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state.

Four boys between the ages of 6 and 18 died in the shooting, but the army denied that its soldiers fired indiscriminately.

Maj. Gen. N. K. Singh said the army cordoned off the area following a tip-off that some militants were there. As soon as the army placed the cordon, the militants hurled grenades at the soldiers, setting off a gunfight, Singh said. The boys died in the crossfire, he said.

But Ghulam Haffan Wani, whose 8-year-old son died in the shooting, said there was no gunfight and that only the soldiers were firing.

"Perhaps, they were trying to catch one of the boys suspecting him of having links to the militant groups," Wani said, adding that the firing started when one boy tried to run away.

Both the Indian army and the state government promised to investigate the incident.

Protesters staged dozens of demonstrations Thursday in Srinagar, while residents of Dodipora staged a sit-down protest on the streets. Police in Srinagar beat some protesters with batons after they turned violent and burned rubber tires, reports the AP.


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