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Gunfight follows two explosions in Kashmir
( 2003-10-17 15:33) (Agencies)

Two explosions went off near the home of the top elected official in Indian-controlled Kashmir and two paramilitary soldiers were killed in a gunbattle between his guards and suspected militants on Friday, police said.

The blasts occurred within 110 yards of the home of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, chief minister of India's northern Jammu-Kashmir state, a police official said on condition of anonymity.

He said Sayeed was not at home, but television news channels gave conflicting reports about that. The busy Maulana Azad Road outside the house was sealed by police and it was difficult to confirm details immediately.

Two photographers, including one from The Associated Press, received splinter injuries in the explosion.

Two paramilitary soldiers were killed in a subsequent gunbattle that erupted between the chief minister's security guards and some suspected militants, who fled to a nearby shopping complex, the police officer said.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, with both nuclear-armed nations squabbling over the Himalayan region.

Jammu-Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in India, where four-fifths of the population is Hindu. More than 63,000 people have been killed since a separatist insurgency by Islamic militants began in 1989.

India says Pakistan trains, arms and funds the militants, but Pakistan says it only extends moral support.

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