Passer-by dies as police fire on Indian Kashmir protest

One man was killed Tuesday in restive Indian Kashmir when soldiers fired at demonstrators demanding an inquiry into the death of a Kashmiri research scholar who was found hanged in southern India.

The soldiers opened fire on a "small group of stone-throwing protesters and a passer-by was killed", a senior police official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The dead man was identified by police as Tahir Ahmed Sofi, a university student in his twenties. Four people taking part in the protest were injured in the firing, police said.

The protest had been called by the main separatist alliance of Indian Kashmir, which is demanding an impartial probe into the death of Mudasir Malla late last week. It asserts that his body bore marks of violence.

Malla was found hanged in a hostel room in Hyderabad and city police said he had committed suicide. Thousands of mourners turned out for his funeral on Monday in south Kashmir.

The Himalayan region has remained tense since Mohammed Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist, was executed in February in a New Delhi jail for his involvement in a 2001 attack on India's parliament which killed 10 people.

Kashmir has been gripped by a separatist conflict for the past two decades that has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir. Each administers part of the territory but claims the entire area.