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Deadly protests called off in Pakistan-held Kashmir

Four people, including one police officer were killed in the weekend violence and more than 100 were injured
Awami Action Committee's Kashmiris carry the coffins of slain protestors during the funeral in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on May 14, 2024.

Awami Action Committee's Kashmiris carry the coffins of slain protestors during the funeral in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on May 14. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 15, 2024 05:00 AM GMT
Updated: May 15, 2024 06:01 AM GMT

Days of protests against rising living costs in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in which three people were killed ended on May 14, after organizers accepted a government offer of financial aid.

Paramilitary troops known as Rangers clashed with protesters on May 13, the fourth day of rallies, when more than 10,000 people turned out on the streets.

In response, the government announced it would reduce flour and electricity prices and provide an $86 million financial aid package.

"After the reduction of the prices and the issuance of the notifications, we ended the protest today," said Shaukat Nawaz Mir, a senior member of the Joint Awami Action Committee civil society group that represents local traders.

"It is a victory for us that our demands were met, but now we demand a judicial inquiry into the deaths," Mehmood Baig, a fellow senior member, told AFP.

Three people died of gunshot wounds, Nadeem Janjua, a government official and deputy commissioner of Muzaffarabad, the capital of the region, said on May 13.

One police officer was also killed in the weekend violence and more than 100 were injured, according to the government.

Ghulam Hussein, the elder brother of Chaudry Azhar who was killed, accused Rangers of shooting his brother.

"My brother gave his life for the rights of the people. I want justice for my younger brother," Hussein said.

Federal Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed "deep concerns" on May 12 over the situation, saying that while a protest is a democratic right, government properties had been damaged.

The Himalayan region is divided between India and Pakistan, which both claim it in full.

The neighbors have fought two of their three wars over the territory, split by a de facto border known as the Line of Control.

Pakistani-administered Kashmir is a semi-autonomous region with its regional government.

The country recently suffered a major financial crisis, which blocked imports, soared inflation, and plummeted the rupee against the dollar.

However, thanks to an International Monetary Fund agreement, inflation has steadily reduced, and the currency rate has stabilized.

A team from the global lender arrived in Pakistan on May 13 for talks on the latest deal.

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