Stores, businesses and schools were shut across Indian-controlled Kashmir after separatists called a strike to protest a series of killings over the past week.

Authorities say their initial investigations indicate rebels killed the four victims, each with a close-range shot to the back of the head. But separatists who challenge India's sovereignty over Kashmir say secret government agencies were behind the killings. The murders occurred in the town of Sopore.

On Wednesday, security forces patrolled the streets of Indian Kashmir's main city, Srinagar, and buses and taxis stayed off the roads. Many government employees also stayed home.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety. Rebels want the region to merge with Pakistan or to become independent.