Four Pakistani soldiers killed in Indian fire across tense Kashmir frontier

Tuesday, 16 January 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Islamabad (Reuters): Four Pakistani soldiers were killed on Monday in shelling by Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region, the Pakistani army said, the latest clash between the nuclear-armed neighbours who have also been exchanging heated challenges.

A decades-old dispute over the mostly Muslim Himalayan region of Kashmir, claimed in full but ruled in part by both Pakistan and India, has heated up in recent years after a 2003 ceasefire brought more than a decade of relative peace.

“Troops were busy in line communication maintenance when they were fired upon and hit by heavy mortar round,” the Pakistani military said of the attack in which the four men were killed, in the Jandrot region.

Pakistani forces responded, killing three Indian soldiers and wounding several, it said.

India’s military told Reuters that Pakistani forces fired first and no casualties were recorded on the Indian side.

On another section of the so-called Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir between the two sides, India said its forces on Monday killed five member of a pro-Pakistan militant group trying to slip into Indian Kashmir.

“They crossed the Jhelum river which is de facto border in the area. We allowed them to cross the river and challenged them. All of the five who crossed the river were killed,” said an Indian officer, Major General Gulab Singh Rawat.

A Pakistani military source, who declined to be identified, denied that any militants had been killed trying to cross from the Pakistani side to the Indian side.

India accuses Pakistan of backing Islamist militants and encouraging them to launch attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir, where a separatist insurgency has simmered for years, and in other parts of India.

Pakistan denies that and says India must hold negotiations on the future of Kashmir.

The neighbours have fought three wars since their independence from Britain, two of them over Kashmir.