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Three die in protests against flour and energy prices

Three die in protests against flour and energy prices

Violence has marred protests against price increases in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, leaving three people dead and 100 others wounded, authorities said, as the unrest entered a fifth day on Tuesday.

Thousands of people have been on the streets since Friday to protest rising prices of flour and electricity.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif offered subsidies worth 23 billion rupees ($83m; £65m) on Monday but it failed to quell the unrest.

The protests have been intensifying since the weekend, prompting authorities to cut mobile services. Schools, public transportation and businesses have also been suspended.

The detention of protest leaders fuelled the unrest.

On Monday, authorities sent paramilitary troops known as rangers into the regional capital, Muzaffarabad.

Police clash with demonstrators during a protest against the arrest of committee leaders and activists in overnight raids in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, 11 May 2024

The detention of protest leaders over the weekend had fuelled further violence [EPA]

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 three who died was a police officer, authorities said.

At least two of the three 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.

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

Kashmir has been a source of conflict between India and Pakistan for more than 70 years.

Delhi and Islamabad both claim the Himalayan region in full, and have fought two wars and a limited conflict over Kashmir. Today, each of the neighbours control only parts of it.

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