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Thousands detained in Kashmir amid communications blackout: police

SRINAGAR, India — Authorities say thousands of people, mostly young male protesters, have been arrested and detained in Indian-administered Kashmir amid an ongoing communications blackout and security lockdown imposed more than two weeks ago to curtail civil unrest after a change to Kashmir’s decades-old special status.

According to three high-ranking Kashmir police officials and arrest statistics shared with The Associated Press on Tuesday, at least 2,300 people have been detained in jails and other facilities in the Himalayan valley. The officials spoke anonymously fearing punishment from superiors.

READ MORE: Kashmir: Many restrictions remain after Indian government promises to restore access

The latest crackdown began this month, just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomy and its statehood, creating two federal territories.

A Central Reserve Police Force spokesman told the AP that he didn’t know how many people have been detained.

Meanwhile, the president of Pakistani-administered Kashmir welcomed efforts by U.S. President Donald Trump to lower tensions between Pakistan and India over the disputed Himalayan region on Tuesday and warned of a deepening humanitarian crisis and food shortages in the Indian-held portion.

WATCH: Edmonton man’s family caught in Kashmir tension

According to a White House spokesman, Trump “reaffirmed the need to avoid escalation of the situation, and urged restraint on both sides.”

Khan accused Indian forces of targeting the civilian population in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, saying 35 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in skirmishes since tensions escalated.

READ MORE: 3-month-old among Canadians under lockdown in Kashmir, father says

Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety.

The moves by India have drawn widespread condemnation in Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan and the country’s military claim New Delhi might launch an attack on Pakistan-administered Kashmir to distract the world’s attention from the human rights situation in the Indian-held portion.

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