A STRICT curfew keeping residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir in their homes for a fifth day is being eased for Friday prayers, police said.

The Muslim-majority region has been under an unprecedented security lockdown and near-total communications blackout to prevent unrest as India’s Hindu nationalist-led government announced it was revoking Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood.

The region’s police chief, Dilbagh Singh, said: “People will be allowed to go to the area-specific mosques for the prayers in most parts of the Srinagar city.”

The relaxing of the curfew in Kashmir’s main city is temporary, and a precise timeframe has not been given.

Friday prayers start at 12.37pm local time (8.07am BST) in Srinagar and last for about 20 minutes.

MEANWHILE Spanish humanitarian ship Open Arms remains stuck in the Mediterranean Sea off Italy’s southernmost island for an eighth day, with no European government offering safe harbour to the 121 migrants on board.

The vessel faces a fine of up to a million Euros (£928,000) if it enters Italian waters, and the ship’s dilemma is becoming the new normal as European governments increasingly shut their doors to migrants.

Richard Gere visited rescued migrants on the ship, delivering food and supplies by boat to the Open Arms near the Italian island of Lampedusa and urged the world to “please support us”.

ELSEWHERE Mexican police have found nine bodies hanging from a road bridge alongside a drug cartel banner threatening rivals.

Seven more corpses were found hacked up and dumped by the road nearby in the western city of Uruapan, and just down the road were three more, making a total of 19.

The killing spree marked a return to the grisly massacres carried out by drug cartels at the height of Mexico’s 2006-12 drug war, when piles of bodies were dumped on roadways as a message to authorities and rival gangs.

Two of the bodies hung by ropes from the overpass by their necks, half naked, were women, as was one of the dismembered bodies.

FINALLY, the Japanese city of Nagasaki has marked the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing, as the mayor criticised nuclear states for challenging survivors’ efforts for a nuclear-free world.

Mayor Tomihisa Taue lamented in his peace declaration that the opinion that nuclear weapons are useful is gaining traction. He said the US and Russia are returning to development and deployment of nuclear weapons after the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was dissolved.