India

India sends eye specialists to Kashmir to treat pellet injuries

A wounded Kashmiri boy, with an injured eye, after being hit by pellets fired by Indian security forces during a protest, in a Srinagar hospital on July 13, 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many of the injured have eye injuries after being hit by pellets fired by the security forces

The Indian government has sent a team of eye specialists to treat those injured during violence in Indian-administered Kashmir over the weekend.

At least 36 people died and more than 1,500 others were injured in clashes between security forces and protesters.

Many have eye injuries after being hit by pellets fired by the forces and doctors say 100 people may lose vision.

Protests broke out in the Muslim-majority region after security forces killed a well-known militant leader.

Burhan Wani, 22, died in a gunfight with the Indian army on Friday.

The team of three eye specialists was sent from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), a leading Delhi hospital, to Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.

India's Health Minister JP Nadda said the doctors arrived in Srinagar on Wednesday.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The violence is the worst seen in the region for years

Reports said the security forces used live ammunition and also pellets fired from shot-guns to chase away the tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets in the valley, throwing rocks at troops and attacking police posts.

The pellets - made of rubber-encased steel - are meant to be non-lethal but doctors say they have caused serious head and eye injuries in many victims.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti made a televised appeal for calm following days of clashes. The violence is the worst seen in the region for years.

The violence has been condemned by Pakistan, which along with India claims Kashmir in its entirety, and there has been a sharp exchange between diplomats of both countries at the United Nations.

Kashmir has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years, sparking two wars between the countries.

Within the Muslim-majority territory, some militant groups have taken up arms to fight for independence from Indian rule or a merger with Pakistan.

The last bout of serious violence in the region was in the summer of 2010, when more than 100 people died in anti-India protests, which broke out after police shot dead a teenager.

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