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Protests break out in Kashmir over Handwara, Iraq bomb attack

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Srinagar, Feb 23 (UNI) Protests have erupted in the entire Kashmir valley today over the killing of four youth, allegedly by the security forces, at Dodipora in Handwara, and the bomb attack on a major Shi'ite shrine at Samarra in Iraq yesterday.

Tension mounted in Handwara area of north Kashmir's Kupwara district after the mourners refused to bury the four boys, who were allegedly killed by the security forces while playing cricket at Dodipora yesterday afternoon, till Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad visits the village and the ''guilty'' Army officials are arrested and punished.

The bodies of six-year-old Amir Akbar, Shakir Wani (8 year old), Ghulam Hassan Bhat and Samad Mir (both 18 years old) have been kept on the main road at the Kulangam chowk, about nine km from Dodipora.

The mourners, shouting pro-freedom and anti-security forces slogans, have refused to buy the Army version of the incident in which it was said that the youth had been killed in cross-firing.

Breakaway Hurriyat Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for a two-day general strike in the entire Jammu and Kashmir in protest against the killing.

Mr Geelani, who has been put under house arrest since 2100 hrs last night, has urged the people to observe complete shutdown in the entire state tomorrow and Saturday to show solidarity with the families of the killed youth.

Addressing an emergency news conference here, he also called for peaceful demonstrations across the state on these two days.

A judicial inquiry ordered by the Chief Minister has failed to pacify the agitators.

Mr Azad has sought a thorough probe into the incident to ascertain the circumstances that led to the killing of the four boys.

Expressing anguish and displeasure over the incident, the Chief Minister had directed Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Basharat Ahmed Dhar and Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, K Rajendra to immediately rush to the area.

They are camping in the area and keeping a close watch on the situation.

The mourners carried the bodies from Dodipora to Kulangam, covering a distance of nine km.

The protestors alleged that on one hand India was holding talks with Pakistan and the separatists leaders and on the other its security forces ''indulged in killings of the innocent people.'' MORE UNI AG MSJ KP1719

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