Indian Troops Fire on Protesters

SRINAGAR, India (AP) -- Two young men and a teenage girl were killed in disputed Kashmir on Saturday when government forces fired at anti-India protesters who disrupted a military-led operation against rebels, police and medics said.

As soldiers and counterinsurgency police launched a cordon and search operation in southern Redwani village, hundreds of villagers confronted them by chanting anti-India slogans and throwing stones, police said.

The clashes intensified as residents from neighboring villages joined the protesters, leading to confrontations at several locations in the area, police said.

Residents said soldiers fired live ammunition, shotgun pellets and tear gas to quell the protests, wounding several people.

Medics said three injured died at a hospital.

The news of the deaths brought more residents to the streets seeking the end of Indian rule over Kashmir.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during India's counterinsurgency operations in the region.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety. In recent years, the Indian-controlled portion has seen renewed rebel attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule.

Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989, demanding that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as 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)