Violence across India-held Kashmir left at least 14 people dead on Sunday, police and military officials said, including six civilians who were killed when an explosion detonated among a crowd protesting against Indian rule.
Thousands of demonstrators, some hurling stones, marched on a village in southern Kulgam town where Indian government forces were battling an unknown number of suspected Kashmiri fighters.
Three suspects were shot dead in the exchange but a subsequent explosion at the scene killed five demonstrators, said Inspector General of police Swayam Prakash Pani.
“Protestors ignored warnings and soon overwhelmed the site, where five died after being hit when leftover explosives went off,” he told AFP.
A sixth civilian injured in the explosion later died at a hospital in Srinagar.
Moreover, As the fighting raged, anti-India protesters tried to reach the site of the standoff. They threw stones at government forces hoping to help the trapped armed Kashmiris escape. Indian forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas at the protesters, leaving at least 30 injured.
Mobile telephone services were suspended in the area as protests spread to other areas including Srinagar, where police used tear gas to disperse angry crowds.
Elsewhere, fighting near the de facto border dividing the contested Himalayan region between India and Pakistan also left three soldiers and two unidentified fighters dead.
Many in Kashmir support rebels who have been fighting for decades for independence or a merger with Pakistan, which like India also claims the territory in full.
India has some 500,000 troops deployed in Kashmir. Popular unrest has been rising since 2016 when a charismatic young Kashmiri leader was shot dead by Indian forces. More than 100 civilians died in subsequent weeks of protest.
Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the decades of fighting across Indian Kashmir.
Pakistan condemns martyrdom of Kashmiri youth
Minister of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur has condemned the "martyrdom of nine Kashmiri youth by Indian troops in the latest act off state terrorism in Kulgam district of occupied Kashmir", Radio Pakistan reported.
In a statement, the minister has drawn the attention of world community towards the worst atrocities carried out by the Indian security forces on innocent Kashmiris.
"The world conscience should raise its voice on this barbaric treatment," the minister said, adding that Pakistan will continue to expose the true face of India on all international forums.