KARACHI, Pakistan — Hundreds of Pakistanis have rallied across the country to denounce the recent killing of 18 people by Indian forces in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

The rallies were held Friday in Islamabad, in the port city of Karachi and elsewhere in the country.

Asadullah Bhutto, a local leader of Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami party, told a rally in Karachi that India had killed "innocent civilians and freedom fighters" in Kashmir.

Pakistan's government issued a call earlier in the week for the rallies in solidarity with the Kashmiris.

Violence has escalated in the region since clashes on Sunday, in which Indian officials said three of its troops were killed, as well as 13 "rebels" and five civilians.

Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India and claimed by both it in its entirety.