Indian forces killed 13 protesters and wounded scores of others in confrontations across Kashmir fuelled in part by a report that a Koran was desecrated in the United States, police said.
The violence, the worst since separatist protests erupted in June, came today as Indian officials debated whether to ease harsh security regulations to try to ease tensions in the disputed territory.
Despite a rigid curfew clamped across the region, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets, throwing rocks, torching government buildings and chanting, “Go India, go back. We want freedom.”
Security forces shot live ammunition at some of the crowds, killing people in at least five different villages, said a police officer.
The protests were inflamed by reports on the Iranian state-run channel Press TV that the Koran was desecrated over the weekend in the United States.
US Ambassador Timothy Roemer said the US government was “dismayed” by reports of the rioting and appealed for calm.
He also condemned any Koran desecration as “disrespectful, intolerant, divisive and unrepresentative of American values. The deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act.”