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Grenade Explosion, Gunbattle in Kashmir Leaves 8 Dead

In Indian Kashmir, authorities said eight people have been killed and more than 30 others injured in separate incidents. Violence continues in the region, despite an easing of tensions between India and Pakistan.

Indian officials said soldiers and suspected rebels were killed in a fierce gunbattle at Kokernag, 70 kilometers south of Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar.

Police officials also say two separate grenade explosions wounded dozens of civilians overnight. One grenade was hurled at a paramilitary patrol, about 25 kilometers south Srinagar. Another grenade was lobbed near a holy shrine in a village in Budgam district, where dozens of Muslims had gathered for an annual function.

New Delhi blames the violence in Kashmir on more than a dozen Islamic groups fighting Indian rule in the region. India accuses Pakistan of fueling the Kashmiri separatist insurgency by training and arming the guerrillas. Pakistan denies the charge.

On Friday, India reiterated its offer to Pakistan to jointly monitor the disputed Kashmir border to ensure there is no infiltration by Muslim militants into Indian territory. An Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao also called on Pakistan to deliver on pledges of stopping incursions by Muslim rebels into Indian Kashmir.

India's new foreign minister, Yashwant Sinha, said earlier this week infiltration by militants in the region is on the rise after a brief lull. Islamabad says there is no infiltration of rebels from its territory into India.

Indian officials say more than 35,000 people have died in Indian Kashmir since the insurgency erupted in 1989. Human rights groups say the toll is much higher. India controls about two-thirds of Kashmir and Pakistan controls the rest.