Kashmir: at least eight killed as India-Pakistan hostilities resume
Indian and Pakistani soldiers have targeted each other’s posts and villages along their volatile frontier in disputed Kashmir, killing at least six civilians and two Pakistani troops, officials said, AP reports.
Tensions have been running high since Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan on Tuesday, carrying out what India called a pre-emptive strike against militants blamed for a 14 February suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops. Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a fighter jet on Wednesday and detaining its pilot, who was returned to India on Friday in a peace gesture.
Fighting resumed overnight on Friday. Pakistan’s military said two of its soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire with Indian forces near the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between the rivals. It marked the first fatalities for Pakistani troops since Wednesday, when tensions dramatically escalated between the nuclear-armed neighbours over Kashmir, which is split between them but claimed by both in its entirety.
Indian police said two siblings and their mother were killed in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The three died after a shell fired by Pakistani soldiers hit their home in the Poonch region near the Line of Control. The children’s father was critically wounded.
In Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, government official Umar Azam said Indian troops with heavy weapons “indiscriminately targeted border villagers” along the Line of Control, killing a boy and wounding three other people. He said several homes were destroyed by Indian shelling.
Following a lull of a few hours, shelling and firing of small arms resumed on Saturday. A Pakistani military statement said two civilians were killed and two others wounded in the fresh fighting. The Indian army said Pakistani troops attacked Indian posts at several places along the militarised line.
Officials from both countries blamed each other for “unprovoked” violations of the 2003 ceasefire accord at several sectors along the Kashmir frontier, targeting army posts as well as villages.