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Srinagar: 13 wounded as police fires on protesting youths

Source: PTI
February 20, 2009 21:28 IST
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At least 13 persons, including a woman and a cameraperson of a news channel, were injured in Srinagar on Friday, as the police opened fire, lobbed teargas shells and used batons to chase away violent youths demanding the release of jailed separatist leaders.

While a 38-year-old woman was hit by a bullet and was stated to be in critical condition, the rest were injured in pitched street battles which broke out shortly after the Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid and spread to adjoining areas in downtown Srinagar, official sources said.

Police resorted to firing when teargas and baton failed to restore law and order, the sources said.

The trouble started when several hundred people, mostly youth, tried to take out a march in support of their demand for the release of separatist leaders and resorted to stone-pelting when police stopped them at the Islamia School near Rajourikadal.

The clashes spread to the nearby Gojwara and Nowhatta and 13 persons, including five policemen, were injured, the sources said adding among them Shaheena, a resident of Gojwara, was hit by a bullet while she was watching the clash near her house.

Shaheena was hit by a bullet in her neck and was taken to the Soura Medical Institute where her condition was stated to be "critical", the sources said.

Dozens of prominent separatist leaders were arrested in the run up to assembly elections last year but most of them, including Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik and Moulana Shoukat Ahmad Shah, were released.

However, some of the leaders, including executive members of moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Shabir Ahmad Shah and Nayeem Ahmad Khan, hardliner Masarat Aalam and JKLF leaders Mohammad Saleem alias Nanaji and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bita Karate, continued to remain under detention.

Activists of the Democratic Freedom Party staged a demonstration outside the Dastigeer Sahib shrine at Sarai Bala in the heart of Srinagar after the Friday prayers, demanding the release of their detained leader Shabir Ahmad Shah.

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