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Protesters in Pakistan-held Kashmir end rallies that killed 4 after authorities revoke price hikes

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Protesters in the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir called off rallies over price hikes that have left four people dead after authorities agreed to lower prices of electricity and wheat.

The local civil rights alliance, the Awami Action Committee, said it had called off a planned march in the city of Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistan-held part of the disputed Himalayan region, after the government accepted all of its demands.

The protests against price hikes erupted last Friday and quickly turned violent. Four people, including a police officer, were killed in clashes between demonstrators and security forces, who used tear gas and opened fire. More than 100 policemen were injured, authorities said.

Late on Monday, the head of the local government, Chaudhry Anwarul Haq, said he had reduced prices of wheat and electricity.

The economic crisis in the Pakistan-held Kashmir reflects the broader troubles in the country. Pakistan’s monthly inflation rate hit 40% last year, and remains at 17%.

Although Pakistan and also the Pakistan-held Kashmir have witnessed demonstrations against price hikes in the past, the Kashmir rallies were the first time people came out on the streets in the territory in such a large numbers.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but both claim the entire territory. The two nuclear-armed neighbors fought two of their three wars since 1947 over their competing claims to the region. In the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, militants have fought against Indian rule since 1989. In 2003, the two nations agreed on a cease-fire that has largely held despite regular skirmishes.