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Kashmiri Politicians Call for Probe into Civilian Deaths

Politicians in Indian-controlled Kashmir are urging the state government to order an independent inquiry into the deaths of 15 civilians during anti-India protests.

Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir state met Monday to discuss the unrest that has gripped the Himalayan region in recent weeks. Indian security forces have been struggling to contain protests against Indian rule and are accused of opening fire on demonstrators.

The state's Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the political parties called for the return of peace and normalcy to Kashmir. The parties also urged the Indian government to strengthen the ongoing peace process through both "internal and external dialogue," in a reference to talks with Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists.

The region's main opposition People's Democratic Party did not take part in Monday's meeting.

A Muslim separatist strike shut down Kashmir for a second day Monday, with shops, schools and offices closed. Indian authorities lifted a six-day curfew across most of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Sunday.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in its entirety by both. Muslim insurgents have been fighting for independence from India or a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan for more than 20 years. Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict and the two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two wars over Kashmir.

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