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Separatists Enforce General Strike During Indian Kashmir Peace Talks


Separatist rebels are enforcing a general strike in Indian Kashmir, leaving the streets of the summer capital largely deserted on the last day of peace talks led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Shops, businesses and schools in Srinagar were closed for a second day Thursday as the prime minister held a final round of talks aimed at ending an Islamist separatist insurgency that has killed tens of thousands of people since 1989.

Key separatist leaders are boycotting the discussions, calling them futile. Indian Kashmir's largest rebel group, Hezb-ul-Mujahedeen, said peace would not be achieved without the participation of guerrilla leaders.

The talks are part of a larger peace process to resolve the standoff between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, which have squabbled over Kashmir since 1948.

Despite heightened security around Srinigar, at least 30 people were wounded by rebel grenade attacks on Wednesday.

During the talks on Wednesday, the Indian government pledged to review the cases of Kashmiri militants who fled to Pakistani Kashmir after violating Indian laws.

New Delhi says Kashmiri rebels cross over to the Pakistani zone to undergo arms training and carryout attacks in the Indian-ruled part of the Himalayan region.

Mr. Singh also warned troops against committing human rights abuses, and promising to rebuild the strife-torn region.

He promised funds to boost employment, improve health care, roads and the electrical power supply in Indian Kashmir.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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