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India troops dig in after victories

BATALIK, India (AP) -- Pounded by Pakistani artillery, India soldiers dug into newly won positions on a mountain ridge Monday and prepared for an assault on the last pockets of Islamic guerrillas in the mountainous Kashmir region.

As India claimed new military victories, the leaders of the world's most industrialized nations and Russia urged a halt to the fighting in Kashmir. The divided territory has been the trigger for two wars since India and Pakistan won independence from Britain in 1947.The statement by the Group of Eight urged the withdrawal of the guerrillas, who had seized mountain posts on the Indian-controlled side of the cease-fire line dividing Kashmir.

India saw the statement from the G-8 summit in Cologne, Germany, as a clear-cut demand for Pakistan to withdraw the forces it allegedly supports. But the statement did not name Pakistan directly -- so Islamabad Monday called it a vindication of its stance in the hostilities.

India accuses Pakistan of backing the guerrillas in an attempt to change the 1972 cease-fire line. Pakistan denies it is behind the guerrillas, who it says are Muslim fighters seeking Kashmiri independence.

After a week of fighting, India troops scaled an almost vertical rock face and took Peak 5140, the highest point on a Himalayan ridge dominating a strategic highway, the army announced Sunday. Heavy fighting continued for Tiger Hill, the last of three towering peaks on the ridge.

A military spokesman said the next objective was to seize three ridge lines and keep the pressure on the militants' supply lines.

In the nearby Mushko valley, India troops have pushed back the guerrillas to within two miles of the line of control, said an officer, Col. Avtar Singh. The intruders had infiltrated up to four miles across the cease-fire line.

In New Delhi, military spokesman Col. Bikaram Singh said 100 Pakistani soldiers were dislodged from Peak 5140.