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Despite the curfew, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization of separatist groups, issued a statement calling for more protests, saying, “Military measures will in no way be able to break the will of the people.”

The tension in the Himalayan region - divided between India and Pakistan - was reminiscent of the late 1980s, when protests against Indian rule sparked an armed conflict that eventually killed more than 68,000 people, mostly civilians.

Residents say security forces have killed 15 people in the recent protests. The government’s decision to send the army to quell the protests was intended to prevent them from spiraling out of control and igniting another insurgency.


Cabinet minister on hunger strike

COLOMBO | A Sri Lankan Cabinet minister on Thursday said he was on a hunger strike outside the U.N. office in Colombo to protest a panel set up to investigate alleged rights abuses during the island’s civil war.

Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa, who led protests outside the U.N. building earlier this week, said he was prepared to fast to the death to protect the honor of the military.

“This [U.N. panel] is a plan by the U.N. to produce our military before a war-crimes tribunal,” Mr. Weerawansa said to a few dozen cheering supporters. “We won’t let that happen.”

Hunger strikes are often used in Sri Lanka to attract publicity but are rarely followed for long.


Post-quake reconstruction set to begin

BEIJING | China announced Thursday it will launch a raft of reconstruction projects in a quake-hit Tibetan region this weekend, nearly three months after the disaster, which killed more than 2,700 people.

Construction on 200 projects valued at $2.36 billion will begin Saturday in the Yushu region of the northwestern province of Qinghai, Xinhua news agency said.

A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the predominantly Tibetan-inhabited region on April 14, flattening thousands of homes and leaving nearly 2,700 people dead and about 270 missing.

The new projects will include the rebuilding of homes, schools, hospitals and other public-service facilities, the report said, citing reconstruction officials.

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