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Pakistani militant leader pledges support to Kashmir rebels

By ASIF SHAHZAD
Created: 07/20/2016 9:54 PM

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The founder of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hafiz Saeed, pledged on Wednesday to support armed rebels in Indian-ruled Kashmir.

Saeed, who is designated a terrorist by the U.S. government with a $10 million bounty on his head, addressed thousands of his supporters in Islamabad.

His charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, has rallied recently in various Pakistani cities with a series of so called "black day" demonstrations against recent violence in the Indian-held portion of the divided Kashmir territory.

Pakistan's government also called for "black day" observances to express solidarity with Kashmiris.

The largest street protests in recent years erupted in the Indian-held Kashmir after Indian troops on July 8 killed Burhan Wani, the popular 22-year-old leader of Kashmir's largest rebel group.

Police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear enforced a strict curfew for the 12th straight day Wednesday as life remained paralyzed and streets deserted in the disputed region.

During the recent protests, clashes between government forces and Kashmiris have left 47 people, mostly teens and young men, and a policeman dead. Nearly 2,000 civilians and about 1,600 government troops have been injured.

Saeed assured the Kashmiris of full support. "We will shed our blood wherever you shed your blood," he told the rally participants who chanted down with India and al-Jihad.

Both India and Pakistan claim the entire Kashmir territory.

(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP

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