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70 detained in fresh protests against India fuel hike

by Staff Writers
Srinagar (AFP) June 12, 2008
Police in revolt-hit Indian Kashmir detained 70 people as protests against a rise in fuel prices announced by the national government continued for a fourth day on Thursday.

Police used batons and water cannons to repel government employees shouting "roll back fuel prices" as they tried to march on the office of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar.

"Some 20 protesters received minor injuries while 70 others were detained," a police officer, who declined to be named, told AFP.

Unhappiness over the fuel price hike announced last week by the ruling Congress-led government in New Delhi has also prompted a state-wide strike by privately owned buses and trucks.

The transport workers are demanding hikes in fares and freight charges to offset the average 10 percent rise nationwide rise in diesel and petrol costs.

On Wednesday, shops throughout Kashmir staged a one-day strike to protest the increases.

The unrest over the fuel price hike has added to the woes of the region, whose economy has been wracked by a nearly two-decades-old insurgency against New Delhi's rule that has claimed at least 43,000 lives.

The central government raised fuel prices in a bid to stem huge losses at state-owned oil companies caused by surging global crude costs.

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