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Protests break out in India-administered Kashmir as police ask people to stay indoors

Hundreds of people protested an unprecedented security crackdown and clashed with police Friday in Indian-administered Kashmir, as India's government said it was constantly reviewing the situation in the disputed region and the restrictions there will be removed over the next few days.

UN Security Council meets but does not agree on a statement

Kashmiri Muslim girls shout pro-freedom slogans during a demonstration after Friday prayers amid curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar, India, on Friday. (Dar Yasin/The Associated Press)

Hundreds of people protested an unprecedented security crackdown and clashed with police Friday in Indian-administered Kashmir, as India's government said it was constantly reviewing the situation in the disputed region and the restrictions there will be removed over the next few days.

Carrying Pakistan's flag and placards reading "Stop Genocide in Kashmir, Wake Up World," young and old people took to the streets in Srinagar, the region's main city, after Friday prayers.

Some hurled stones and clashed with security forces, who responded with tear gas.

Security forces were deployed outside mosques across Srinagar, while police vans fitted with speakers asked people not to venture out, according to two Reuters witnesses.

In some parts of the city, posters appeared calling for protests and asking preachers in mosques to talk about the current situation in Kashmir valley.

"People must try to occupy the streets defying curfew," one poster read.

Kashmiri Muslims hold placards and shout pro-freedom slogans in Srinagar. Posters encouraging dissent had emerged before Friday mosque services. (Dar Yasin/The Associated Press)

Earlier Friday, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam confirmed there would be some loosening of restrictions on the region's residents, saying that landline phone services would be restored gradually beginning Friday night and schools reopened from Monday.

Telephone and internet links were cut and public assembly banned in Kashmir just before New Delhi removed the decades-old autonomy the Muslim majority territory enjoyed under the Indian constitution. The measures were aimed at preventing protests.

"You will find a lot of Srinagar functioning tomorrow morning," Subrahmanyam told reporters.

Tensions have increased between India and Pakistan since New Delhi downgraded the autonomy of Muslim-majority Kashmir last week. India also deployed thousands of additional troops to the region and imposed the unprecedented lockdown, now in place for a 12th day.

The Supreme Court decided to give the government more time before ruling on a petition demanding the lifting of media restrictions following its assurances that they will be eased soon, attorney Vrinda Grover told reporters. She represents Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin, who said she was unable to publish her newspaper in Srinagar.

'We don't need international busybodies'

In New York, the UN Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the situation in Kashmir for the first time in decades at the request of China and Pakistan.

Pakistan's ambassador to the world body said the session showed that people in the region "may be locked up ... but their voices were heard today."

The council took no action during the meeting.

While the council did not agree on a statement, China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun summed up the discussions, describing serious concern over the situation.

"They are also concerned about the human rights situation there, and also it's the general view of members that parties concerned should refrain from taking any unilateral action that might further aggravate the tension there since the tension is already very tense and very dangerous," he said.

India's UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin accused Zhang of trying to pass off his remarks as "the will of the international community." He said India's decision was an internal matter.

"If there are issues, they will be discussed. They will be addressed by our courts; we don't need international busybodies to try and tell us how to run our lives. We are a billion-plus people," Akbaruddin told reporters.

Heated words from Khan

Pakistan's military, meanwhile, said Indian troops fired across the line of control in the disputed Kashmir region, killing another soldier and bringing the death toll to six in less than 24 hours.

Maj.-Gen. Asif Ghafoor, an army spokesperson, said in a tweet Friday that "another brave son of soil lost his life in the line of duty" in Buttal town.

Pakistani soldiers in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakisan-administered Kashmir, look at a body of their colleague killed during a clash at the line of control between the Pakistan and Indian Kashmiris. (M.D. Mughal/The Associated Press)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has said the revocation of Kashmir's special status was necessary to ensure its full integration into India and speed up development.

India has battled a 30-year revolt in Jammu and Kashmir in which at least 50,000 people have been killed. Critics say the decision to revoke the region's autonomy will cause further alienation and fuel the armed resistance.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the continued clampdown in India-administered Kashmir and warned Modi on Friday that "no nation can be defeated militarily when it rises for independence."

Khan in a tweet described Modi as a "fascist, Hindu supremacist." He equated Modi with Adolf Hitler and said he feared "genocide of Muslims in Kashmir."

Subrahmanyam said 12 of 22 districts in Jammu and Kashmir are functioning normally, with nighttime restrictions in five districts.

In the Kashmir valley, Subrahmanyam said schools would open after the weekend, and restrictions on movement would be lifted after a review of each area.

"It is expected that over the next few days, as the restrictions get eased, life in Jammu and Kashmir will become completely normal," he said.

Hundreds of political leaders and activists remain in detention, some of them in prisons outside Jammu and Kashmir.

At least 52 politicians, most of them belonging to the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party regional parties, are being held at a hotel on the banks of Srinagar's Dal lake.

With files from Reuters

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