By ELI MEIXLER
Authorities said 20 people died during clashes in India-administered Kashmir over the weekend, in the latest eruption of violence in the restive border region.
Three Indian soldiers and 13 suspected militants were killed in a series of clashes near the city of Srinagar, Agence France-Presse reports. Police said hostilities broke out while security forces were conducting anti-militant operations.
Four civilians were also killed when police reportedly opened fire on thousands of demonstrators, some throwing stones and demanding an end to Indian rule.
The turmoil brought much of the city to a standstill, the Associated Press reports, as authorities closed schools and imposed a curfew in some areas. Separatist leaders challenging Indian authority called for a strike Monday in response to the bloodshed over the weekend.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan each control parts of the fraught Himalayan region, but both claim it in its entirety. Rebel forces — some wanting independence and others wishing to unite with Pakistan — have been fighting Indian authority since 1989.
Last year, a renewed anti-insurgency campaign saw a record 200 militants killed, including 22-year-old separatist leader Burhan Wani. Fighting has already killed 51 alleged militants this year, according to AFP.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting or in security crackdowns on civilian protestors, many of whom support the separatists’ cause, according to the AP.