India Troops Fire on Kashmir Protesters

SRINAGAR, India (AP) -- Indian government forces fired at protesters in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday, killing a young man and wounding at least 14 others, officials said, as fighting continued between rebels and troops.

Indian troops cordoned off southern Drubgam village early Monday following a tip that rebels were hiding there, police said.

As fighting between the troops and rebels raged, anti-India residents tried to march to the site to help the trapped militants escape, leading to clashes between the rock-throwing villagers and government forces who fired live ammunition, shotgun pellets and tear gas.

At least 15 residents were reported injured in the clashes, including a young man who was hit by bullets and died in a hospital.

During the intense fighting, an army helicopter hovered over the area to coordinate the operation with ground troops, officials said.

Police said the fighting was continuing and at least two soldiers had been injured.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations. Last year at least 29 civilians were killed and hundreds wounded during such clashes.

A new generation of Kashmiri rebels, especially in the southern parts of the disputed region, has revived the militancy and challenged New Delhi's rule with guns and effective use of social media.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim it in its entirety.

Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989, demanding Indian-controlled Kashmir be made part of Pakistan or become an independent country. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Pakistan denies.

Most Kashmiris support the rebels' cause while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

(KA)