Several injured in clashes in Indian Kashmir

Several people, including an AFP photographer, were injured Friday in Indian Kashmir when government forces thwarted a procession to a southern town reeling under curfew, police and witnesses said.

A top separatist leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had called for a mass march to Shopian, around 45 kilometres (nearly 30 miles) from the state capital Srinagar, to protest the 12-day curfew in the town.

Police and paramilitaries fired tear gas and pellet guns to prevent hundreds of rock throwing protesters in the Nowhatta area of the old town Srinagar from marching ahead.

"Two persons were injured including one with pellets," Kashmir's police chief Abdul Gani Mir told AFP.

Eyewitness however said several were injured by pellet guns fired by the police.

The injured included AFP photographer Tauseef Mustafa and a cameraman working for Iran's Press TV, both of whom were hit on the head by rocks. Both needed stitches but were not seriously injured.

Authorities have imposed a round-the-clock curfew in Shopian since September 8, a day after Indian paramilitary forces killed four men in the town.

The region has been tense since the latest killings, the victims of which were first described by the authorities as rebels but three of them were later identified as local students.

The fourth man is yet to be identified and the government has instituted an enquiry into the incident.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by a heavily militarised line of control (LoC) since the two countries won independence from Britain in 1947.

About a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or merger of the disputed territory with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands, mostly civilians have died in the fighting.