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Fierce Fighting Continues in Indian Kashmir

In Indian Kashmir, there have been fierce clashes between Islamic militants and security forces. Two soldiers and two militants have been killed and more than 20 others have been injured in the fighting.

The sound of gunfire echoed throughout Saturday in the main commercial hub of Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar, as Indian troops battled Islamic militants holed up in two buildings.

Officials say the fighting began Friday night when separatist guerrillas hurled grenades and opened fire on a security post. The attack sparked panic in the area.

Several journalists who rushed to cover the firefight were caught in the crossfire and injured. A local television cameraman who was shot in the stomach is reported to be in serious condition.

The militants later slipped into a nearby shopping complex and hotel. Both sides exchanged fire for more than 20 hours before the militants were gunned down. Dozens of people from nearby buildings were evacuated.

Kashmir's chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, says the militants are trying to disrupt a peace process between India and Pakistan.

He says the militants are mounting such attacks to inject fear into people who are turning their focus on peace and politics.

Two militant groups, Al Mansuriyan and Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, have claimed responsibility for the attack. They are among a dozen Islamic militant groups who have been waging a violent insurgency since 1989 for Kashmir's independence from India or merger with Pakistan. The fighting has claimed more than 40,000 lives.

The Himalayan territory is divided between India and Pakistan, and New Delhi says the insurgency is led by Muslim militants who infiltrate into Indian Kashmir from the Pakistani side. The militants have vowed to continue their separatist campaign despite efforts by the two rivals to solve their dispute over the region through a peace dialogue.

Violence has declined in the region since peace talks began last year, and both sides have vowed to persevere with efforts to solve their dispute over the Himalayan territory.