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Four dead in Pak Kashmir protests against rising flour, energy prices

Organisers call off protests after govt offers subsidies

May 15, 2024 00:00:00

ISLAMABAD, May 14 (BBC): Four people have died and 100 others were left wounded after violent clashes with authorities in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Thousands of people have been on the streets since Friday to protest rising prices of flour and electricity.

Organisers called off the protests on Tuesday, a day after Pakistan's PM Shehbaz Sharif offered subsidies worth 24 billion rupees ($86m; £69m). "The government has accepted all of our demands," said Shaukat Nawaz Mir, one of the activists leading the demonstrations.

Mr Mir had also demanded that the government offer financial compensation for the families of those killed in the violence. Violence had intensified since the weekend, prompting authorities to cut mobile services. Schools, public transportation and businesses have also been suspended.

On Monday, authorities sent paramilitary troops known as rangers into the regional capital, Muzaffarabad. Footage of the protests show both sides hitting at one another with rods. Reports said the paramilitary troops also fired bullets and lobbed tear gas at protesters.

One of the four who died was a police officer, authorities said. At least two of the casualties had died from gunshot wounds, AFP news agency reported, citing a doctor at the Combined Military Hospitals in Pakistan.

"[The rangers] should not have shot at the protesters. We were just asking for our rights and got bullet shots in return," Muhammad Qasim, a 37-year-old shopkeeper, told AFP.

The Joint Awami Action Committee, an activist group that initiated the protests, declared Tuesday a "Black Day" to honour those who died.

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