SRINAGAR, India - Indian forces killed three suspected Islamic militants holed up in a mosque in Indian-controlled Kashmir, ending a two-day hostage standoff and sparking angry protests that injured dozens of people, police said yesterday.
"The siege is over. We have killed the three militants and rescued all the five civilians," said Hemant Lohia, a senior police officer who supervised the operation.
Later yesterday, thousands gathered in the remote village of Palnu, 60 miles south of Srinagar, to bury the dead gunmen and to protest the police operation in Kashmir.
Police beat the protesters with batons and fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse the protesters, who pelted security forces with rocks and stones, police officer Bashir Ahmad said.
Police and witnesses said dozens of people were wounded, though neither gave exact figures. Each side blamed the other for starting the violence.
The gunmen were believed to belong to Hezb-ul-Mujahedeen, the largest of about a dozen groups fighting Indian rule in the region. The group had no immediate comment.
Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, though each claims the region in its entirety. The separatists want independence from mostly Hindu India or a union with mainly Muslim Pakistan. More than 68,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in fighting in the region since the rebellion started in 1989.