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Kashmir militants free hostages

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SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir (Reuters) -- Suspected separatist rebels besieged in a house in Indian Kashmir have released 12 hostages seized a day earlier when the group sought to help negotiate their surrender, a police spokesman said.

Three or four militants are still in the house in a remote village near Shopian, south of the state's main city, Srinagar, and the army has surrounded the building to flush them out.

"The hostages came out after security forces fired teargas shells into the house in the morning," the spokesman told Reuters.

Separatist violence has surged in Jammu and Kashmir despite tentative peace moves between India and Pakistan, who have fought two wars over the region since winning independence from Britain in 1947.

New Delhi accuses Islamabad of sponsoring Islamic guerrillas fighting India's rule in Kashmir, a charge Pakistan denies.

The nuclear-armed South Asian rivals stood on the brink of war last year over Kashmir, and India wants a halt to violence there before talks.

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