Violent protests erupt in Indian Kashmir after civilian is killed by army troops

Violent protests erupted in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir on Tuesday after a civilian and a militant were killed in an encounter with the army, officials in the troubled Himalayan region said.

Two men were killed in military operations late Monday, said Nitish Kumar, a police official. He gave no other details of the encounter, which took place near the southern town of Tral.

Relatives and angry locals disputed that version, saying the civilian was actually tortured to death.

One of the men who was killed was a known militant and the other a civilian who was the brother of a militant, Kumar said.

The body of the civilian, Khaled Muzaffar, had no bullet wounds, said his father, Muzaffar Wani, a local school principal. Wani said there were rope marks on his son's wrists, indicating he had been tortured by security troops.

Police official K. Rajendra said authorities "will get to know the truth" once an autopsy report is released.

The Indian army said only one person — a militant — was killed in the incident. Several phone calls to army officials went unanswered.

Soon after Muzaffar's burial Tuesday, hundreds of rock-throwing protesters took to the streets and clashed with police and paramilitary troops, who retaliated by firing live ammunition in the air as well as tear gas at several places in and around Tral. At least 15 people were injured, police said.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan. Residents in India's portion strongly favor a merger with Pakistan or independence.

Several militant groups have operated in the region since an insurgency erupted in 1989. An estimated 68,000 people have died in the fighting and ensuing crackdown by Indian forces. With the rebellion now largely suppressed, most resentment of Indian rule is expressed through street protests.