A 15-year-old boy has been shot dead by security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir during a protest over a raid that left two suspected rebels killed, according to police and eyewitnesses.
SP Vaid, a senior police officer, said a gun battle erupted early on Thursday after troops cordoned off southern Padgampora village on a tip that armed rebels were hiding in a house.
As the fighting raged, villagers tried to march to the area and attacked government forces with rocks to help the suspects escape, according to Vaid.
Eyewitnesses said the troops fired live ammunition, tear gas and shotgun pellets at the protesters, killing 15-year-old Amir Nazir and wounding three others, one critically.
Vaid said the teenager was killed by a stray bullet as the villagers ignored repeated calls by the authorities to stay away from the site of the gun battle.
Another police official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press news agency that one of the two suspects was killed in an initial exchange of gunfire.
He said government forces brought the other rebel’s wife and two children to the site from a neighbouring village to plead to him to surrender. The officer said he refused and was also killed in the fighting.
The clashes continued in the village and spread to the neighbouring town of Pampore, where businesses shuttered their shops and groups of youths hurled rocks at the troops.
Indian army’s chief warned last month that “tough actions” would be taken against people throwing stones during operations, but protests against the Indian government and clashes have continued.
Kashmir is divided between archrivals India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over control of the Himalayan territory since British colonialists left the subcontinent in 1947.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Kashmiri rebels who have been fighting for independence or for a merger with Pakistan since 1989. Pakistan denies the charge, saying it only provides moral and political support to Kashmiris.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed since rebel groups began fighting Indian forces in 1989 and in a subsequent Indian military crackdown.