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Violent protests continue in Pakistan-held Kashmir against price hikes. Talks with the IMF begin

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Protests against price hikes continued for the fourth day in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir with demonstrators clashing with police, officials said Monday, while government talks began with the International Monetary Fund in pursuit of billions of dollars in new support.

The violence that has gripped the region since Friday has left at least two people dead, including a police officer, and 100 others injured.

The prime minister in Pakistan-held Kashmir, Chaudhry Anwarul Haq, met with the protests’ organizers and said he would reduce prices of wheat and electricity, viewed by many as a barometer for the market. However, the violence continued in and near the capital, Muzaffarabad.

Pakistan’s monthly inflation rate has come down to 17% after at one point reaching over 40%.

The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, both armed with nuclear weapons. The South Asian neighbors have fought three wars since their independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Last year, Pakistan narrowly avoided a default on payment of foreign debts after the IMF and several friendly nations offered loans. Talks began Monday with the IMF for a new loan, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Pakistan hopes to get $6 billion from the IMF.