Four civilians were killed and 10 others wounded Thursday when Indian troops opened fire on protesters at a mosque in the Kashmir region, authorities said.

Members of the Border Security Force opened fire on a demonstration that erupted after several police officers allegedly desecrated a copy of the Koran.

Kashmir's deputy interior minister, Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo, told The Hindu newspaper that four protesters died, though other media outlets put the death toll at six.

The Indian government has some 700,000 troops in Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region whose then-ruler declined to join Pakistan, founded as a state for Muslims, when the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947.

Even so, a portion of the region came under the control of Islamabad, and Kashmir remains divided into Indian and Pakistani sectors by the Line of Control, or LoC.

Nearly 70,000 people have died in political strife in Indian Kashmir since 1989.

Pakistan, along with many Kashmiris, calls on India to comply with a 1948 U.N. resolution urging that residents be allowed to vote to determine the region's status.

The two nuclear-armed neighbors have waged three wars over Kashmir and were seemingly on the verge of a fourth in 1999 after a sustained Pakistani incursion into Indian territory. EFE