SRINAGAR, India (AP) – A strict curfew was imposed in most of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Thursday, with thousands of troops fanning out across the region a day after a militant attack left five paramilitary soldiers dead.
The militant strike was the bloodiest in years in Srinagar, the region’s main city.
The attack caused an uproar in India’s Parliament on Thursday, as opposition lawmakers accused the government of not using intelligence reports to protect the soldiers.
Two militants staged Wednesday’s attack, lobbying grenades and opening fire on a group of paramilitary soldiers, killing five troops. Soldiers shot dead both militants.
Later Wednesday, paramilitary soldiers fatally shot a civilian who they said was part of a group of protesters throwing stones at paramilitary vehicles. Local residents, however, said the man was not a protester.
Another civilian was killed when he was hit by a paramilitary vehicle. The paramilitary group, the Central Reserve Police Force, said that death was an accident and not related to the day’s violence.
The civilian deaths spiraled into larger protests, leading to the imposition of the curfew. Thousands of armed government troops patrolled the streets of the curfew-bound towns Thursday.
No group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the militants appeared to have come from neighbor and archrival Pakistan. The attackers were found to be carrying a diary that contained Pakistani phone numbers and a tube of skin ointment manufactured in the Pakistani city of Karachi, he told Parliament. Pakistan denied the charges.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the Himalayan region, which has been wracked by more than two decades of separatist violence. While militant attacks have sharply dropped in recent years, Indian Kashmir has faced weeks of protests since the hanging of Kashmiri militant Mohammed Afzal Guru for his role in a 2001 attack on India’s Parliament that killed 14 people, including five of the gunmen. Most Kashmiris do not believe Guru received a fair trial.
The Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in its entirety by both. The insurgents are demanding either a separate state or a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan.
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