SRINAGAR - Indian soldiers fired on a stone-throwing crowd defying a curfew in Held Kashmir , killing three people, police said on Tuesday, as unrest sparked by the death of a Kashmiri commander flared.

Authorities have imposed a curfew in Held for 11 days, blocked mobile phones and briefly ordered curbs on newspapers to stop people from gathering and to control the worst outbreak of violence there in six years.

Late on Monday, protesters blocked a road and threw stones at an army convoy.

“Some miscreants then tried to snatch weapons from the army and tried to set vehicles on fire,” a police spokesman said on Tuesday. The Indian army opened fire after the protesters refused to heed warnings and two women were killed, the spokesman said.

A third person died in hospital on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 45 since protests erupted on July 9 over the killing of Burhan Wani, 22, a commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group, the previous day.

About 3,500 people have been hurt, many with eye injuries caused by pellets Indian forces have been firing from a non-lethal weapon. The injuries have fuelled anger.

The young Wani represented a new generation of fighters in a region where alienation runs deep even though attacks have fallen dramatically since the revolt broke out in 1989.

India’s interior minister Rajnath Singh said he had ordered security forces to exercise restraint. He told parliament he would visit Kashmir soon and hold talks with people “whose pain is being felt by every Indian”.

The publisher of Kashmir’s largest-circulation newspaper said authorities had asked him to resume publication after police seized newspapers over the weekend and shut down cable television, saying it was necessary to stop people from fomenting trouble. But Abdul Rashid Mukhdoomi, printer and publisher of Greater Kashmir, said he was meeting other publishers to decide whether to resume publication under the curfew.

RESIDENTS FACE MEDICINE SHORTAGE

Residents said they are facing shortages of prescription drugs, as parts of the region remained under curfew for an 11th day.

As the overall death toll rose to 45, shopkeepers warned supplies were running low because trucks were unable to reach them, while residents complained of being “caged” in their homes.

“People are suffering without medicines. A lot of people are struggling for medicines for diabetes, hypertension and anti-depressants,” said Nazir Ahmed who owns a pharmacy in Srinagar.

With most vehicles ordered off the roads under the curfew, Ahmed said he walked five kilometres to a warehouse to buy medicines.

“No fresh supplies are coming from outside. This will last two to three days for my neighbourhood,” Ahmed said, carrying plastic bags full of drugs.

Shops and other businesses have been shuttered under the curfew which the government says is needed to curb the street clashes that erupted after the death of a popular rebel leader on July 8.

In parts of Srinagar Tuesday, residents kept watch for volunteers from local charities delivering supplies including food on foot.

An elderly woman suffering from hypertension and a heart condition said she hoped they would bring medicines soon. “I don’t have my medicines. Some volunteers came but they did not have the medicines I need,” Noora, 80, who uses one name, said from her doorstep.

“We are just caged inside our home,” her son, Ghulam Nabi Ahangar, added.

Ahangar said security forces were firing tear gas and pepper spray at night to deter people from venturing outside.

“The poisonous gases stay inside our home and lungs the whole night. Our children are falling sick and cannot sleep,” Ahangar told AFP.

Some pharmacies outside hospitals are open but few residents can reach them, while internet and phone services remain patchy.

“Patients who have not been able to reach hospitals will come in large numbers once the curfew is lifted. It will be another huge emergency,” said Kaisar Ahmed, head of Sri Maharaja Hari Singh and six other government hospitals in Srinagar.