SRINAGAR, India – Government forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir fired warning shots and tear gas Friday to disperse Muslim protesters angry at the publication of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad in the latest issue of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
Protests broke out in the main city of Srinagar after Friday prayers with worshippers carrying placards reading "Down with Charlie" and chanting slogans against the Indian rule and in favor of Islam.
Security fired shots and tear gas in at least at three places, while the protesters hurled rocks at them, police said.
Similar protests were also reported in several towns and villages in the disputed Himalayan region.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
Police overnight detained a top pro-independence leader, Mohammed Yasin Malik, who called the strike and protests against the magazine's latest issue, which shows a drawing of a tearful Prophet Muhammad holding a sign "I am Charlie" in French. It was published following a Jan. 7 attack on the magazine's Paris office that killed 12 people.
Many Muslims believe their faith forbids depictions of the prophet.
The region has witnessed several protests against the latest cartoon, but Friday's shutdown was the first major reaction in Kashmir since the Paris attacks.
"By encouraging and allowing the reproduction of the highly provocative and insulting caricatures of our beloved prophet, the West has contemptuously disregarded sensitivities of the Muslim world," wrote Hassan Zainagairee, a columnist in Greater Kashmir, the region's largest English daily.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, and both claim it in its entirety since British colonialists left in 1947.
Since 1989, several rebel groups have been fighting to win Kashmir's independence or have the Indian-controlled portion merge with Pakistan.
More than 68,000 people, mainly civilians, have died in the armed uprising and subsequent Indian military crackdown.