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SRINAGAR: A paramilitary trooper in Indian-occupied Kashmir shot dead three of his comrades early on Thursday, officials said, as fresh violence raged in the restive territory where 40 troops died in a bombing last month.Police said the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper opened fire on his colleagues with his service rifle at a camp in Udhampur, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of the main city Srinagar.

“He shot himself too and is in a critical condition at a hospital,” Jammu police official MK Sinha said, adding the man “may have been under the influence of drugs”.

According to rights group Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), 20 Indian armed forces personnel killed themselves in 2018, the most in a decade. Since 2004 there have been 80 incidents of “fratricide” and 323 suicides, it says.

Experts said that the factors include stress, long duty hours, denial of leave and domestic issues, prompting authorities to initiate de-stressing initiatives for soldiers such as yoga.Separately, two police officers were wounded when militants lobbed a grenade within a cordoned area amid an exchange of fire in the northern Kashmir valley.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019