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Pakistanis protest killings in Indian-controlled Kashmir

Supporters of Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party march at a rally to show solidarity with residents of the Indian-controlled Kashmir, in Karachi, July 20, 2016. (AFP photo)

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Pakistan Wednesday to protest against the ongoing violence in the Indian-administered Kashmir, where days of clashes between residents and Indian forces have claimed the lives of 45 people.

Massive protests were held in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, and several other cities to draw the world’s attention to a fresh wave of unrest sparked by the death of a separatist rebel commander in Kashmir.

In one major protest, about 20,000 people blocked a highway connecting the capital city of Islamabad to Muzaffarabad in the Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

The angry protesters chanted slogans against the actions of Indian security forces in the disputed Muslim-majority valley.

The demonstrators urged the United Nations to intervene and resolve the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan marked July 20 as a "black day" in a show of solidarity with the victims of the ongoing unrest in Kashmir. A government statement said all officials would wear black arm bands to express support for Kashmiris.

Clashes in Kashmir erupted after Burhan Wani, a top figure in the pro-independence Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) group, was killed along with two others in a shootout with Indian troopers on July 8.

Anti-riot troops have used live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas to disperse the crowds and calm down the outrage over the past few days.

At least 45 people are now confirmed dead and over 2,000 others injured following days of violent clashes between protesters and Indian forces. Medical sources have expressed serious concern that a severe lack of blood donations and life-saving medicines could cause more deaths.

An Indian paramilitary trooper stops a Kashmiri family as they try to take a patient to hospital during the twelfth day of curfew in downtown Srinagar on July 20, 2016. (AFP photo)

Kashmir has been at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute since India and Pakistan became independent in 1947.

New Delhi and Islamabad both claim the Himalayan region in full, but rule parts of it. The two countries have fought two wars over the disputed territory.

The last bout of serious violence in the scenic valley was in the summer of 2010, when more than 100 people died in anti-India protests.

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