Indian forces kill 17 in clashes spurred by reports of Tenn. Koran burning
Monday, September 13, 2010; 3:39 PM
NEW DELHI - Indian security forces killed 17 people and injured 131 others as clashes spread through a dozen different towns across the disputed region of Kashmir on Monday, incited by a report that a Koran was desecrated in the United States, police said.
It was the deadliest day of unrest since anti-India separatist protests exploded June 11 into what became a cycle of summer violence and protests, killing a total of 90 people.
The stone-pelting intifada-like street revolt against the Indian military presence has been the most serious crisis in Kashmir in decades.
The latest deaths come at a time when diplomatic efforts remain stalled to help calm Kashmir, created with the partition of mostly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan and fought over by both countries.
On Monday, two Christian schools and 12 government buildings were set on fire with petrol canisters, said Shiv Sahai, inspector general of police in Kashmir. The airport was also closed.
Separatists had planned fresh round of demonstrations following the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. But protests this time over the destruction of a Koran in Tennessee became a new catalyst to vent frustrations.
The slogan "Down with America" echoed on the streets - rarely heard in Kashmir, where anger is firmly directed at India.
U.S. Ambassador Timothy Roemer condemned any Koran desecration as "disrespectful, intolerant, divisive and unrepresentative of American values."