Three dead, several injured as police clash with protesters in India

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Kashmiri demonstrators throw stones towards Indian policemen during a protest against by-polls in Srinaga, India.

Three people were killed and more than a dozen injured on Sunday when police clashed with protesters during a by-election in Srinagar in India’s disputed Kashmir region, an official said.

Separatist factions in Kashmir had called for a boycott of the by-polls, resulting in heightened security and low voter turnout when the polling began.

In Budgam district, police used tear gas to counter stone-pelting protesters, but was then forced to open fire, killing three people, a senior police official told Reuters.

Overall, more than a dozen people were injured during the clashes across central Kashmir on Sunday, the official said.

The by-election in Srinagar is being held to fill a vacant seat in the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament. A second by-poll in the state for a separate Lok Sabha seat is set to take place on April 12 in Anantnag. The results of both polls are set to be announced on April 15.

India and Pakistan, which claim Kashmir in full but rule only in part, have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region since independence.

India accuses Pakistan of backing separatist fighters – a charge Islamabad denies. The state has been in a phase of unrest since last year when Indian security forces killed separatist leader Burhan Wani.

The violence since then, largely in the form of troops firing on civilian crowds with shotguns after protesters throw stones, has left 84 civilians dead and more than 12,000 civilians and security force personnel wounded.

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