Five dead in strife-torn India-held Kashmir

A police officer and four Kashmiris were killed in separate incidents Sunday in India-held Kashmir as hundreds of residents clashed with security forces in the region hit by weeks of deadly unrest.

Indian soldiers shot and killed four Kashmiris during a siege and search operation in Handwara area of the district.

The encounters came as stone-pelting residents protesting against Indian rule of the region clashed with troops in Pulwana and two other places in the southern Kashmir Valley, leaving scores injured, police officers said.

96 civilians have been killed and thousands injured in the worst violence to hit the Muslim-majority territory since 2010.

A curfew has been lifted from much of the region since protests broke out over the death on July 8 of a popular young leader in a gunbattle with security forces.

But the unrest shows few signs of abating, with residents continuing to take to the streets, while schools and most businesses remain closed, hitting the region’s economy hard.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the two gained independence from British rule in 1947. Both claim the territory in full.

Several freedom fighting groups have for decades fought Indian soldiers — currently numbering around 500,000 — deployed in the territory. They demand independence for the region or its merger with rival Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.

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