South Asia

Kashmir protests: Police shoot four protesters dead

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Media captionYoung people have been at the forefront of the demonstrations

At least four protesters have been killed in clashes between police and demonstrators in Indian-administered Kashmir, police say.

The protesters say that the dead were unarmed but police said they were forced to open fire after they were pelted with stones.

Two of those killed were teenagers taking part in protests in the town of Sopore, north of Srinagar.

Other demonstrators were killed in the towns of Trehhgam and Pattan.

More than 50 civilians have been killed by police in the Kashmir Valley in the past two months.

Kashmiris are angry over what is seen as an excessive use of force against unarmed protesters.

The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says in most cases the police have fired live ammunition while the protesters have thrown stones.

A prominent separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, recently asked the demonstrators to stop hurling missiles.

His advice has been heeded by many, our correspondent adds.

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Media captionThe BBC's Chris Morris met angry villagers in Indian-administered Kashmir

Last week, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for "the cycle of violence" to end.

In a TV address to Kashmiris, his first since recent public protests began, he said the bloodshed had caused him "great pain".

Hundreds of thousands of troops are based in Kashmir to fight a two-decade-long insurgency against Indian rule.

The mainly Muslim territory has been the centre point of two of India's three wars against Pakistan since both countries won independence in 1947.

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