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18 dead amid Kashmir protests against India, U.S.

From Mukhtar Ahmad, CNN
Kashmiri protesters burn an effigy representing U.S. President Barack Obama during a protest in Budgam on the outskirts of Srinagar on September 13, 2010.
Kashmiri protesters burn an effigy representing U.S. President Barack Obama during a protest in Budgam on the outskirts of Srinagar on September 13, 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protests against Indian control rage on, along with protests over Quran-burning plans
  • Two missionary schools, many government buildings burned
  • Death toll since June 11 stands at 89
RELATED TOPICS
  • India
  • Jammu and Kashmir
  • Pakistan

Srinagar, India (CNN) -- Indian-administered Kashmir witnessed widespread violence Monday that killed 18 people and left 80 wounded, some of them critically.

Pro-independence mobs defied a round-the-clock curfew to stage protests against India and against a Florida pastor's now-canceled plans to burn the Quran, leading to fierce clashes with Indian security forces.

Two Christian missionary schools, several government buildings and two police vehicles were set on fire by angry mobs, mostly young people, police said.

The demonstrations to denounce the potential desecration of the Quran added a dimension to the three-month-long anti-India unrest.

Monday's killings are the highest single-day toll in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley since June 11, bringing the death toll to 89.

Scores of others wounded in the violence are receiving treatment in Kashmir hospitals that have come under tremendous strain.

Clashes between Indian security forces and stone-throwing protesters raged in numerous towns across Kashmir, from the northern resort town of Tangmarg to the central Budgam district and Anantnag in the south.

Local governments appealed for calm and banned the Iranian Press TV channel, which reported on the American pastor's plans to burn the Quran.

The protests are part of a "Quit Kashmir" campaign launched by separatist groups against Indian rule in Kashmir.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan. India deployed thousands of troops in Kashmir to guard against what Indian leaders believe was a Pakistan-backed insurgency that began in the late 1980s.

That insurgency, which India says claimed more than 43,000 lives, is no longer raging, but the troops have remained.