India, Pak Troops Trade Fire; 2 Civilians Dead

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Srinagar: As many as two civilians were killed while six others were wounded as Indian and Pakistani troops traded fire in Kashmir on Saturday, officials said.

An Indian army spokesman said Pakistani soldiers started shelling and firing at Indian military posts in the morning in the Nowshera sector along the highly militarised Line of Control (LoC) that divides the region between Pakistan and India.

The Indian Army was retaliating “strongly and effectively”, spokesman, Lt Col Manish Mehta said, adding the gunbattle was still ongoing Saturday afternoon.

Pakistan’s army denied the claims that it initiated the clash and said that Indian soldiers started firing and shelling in at least seven sectors in violation of a 2003 cease-fire. It said three Pakistani civilians were wounded in the violence.

The nuclear-armed archrivals routinely accuse each other of initiating border clashes.

Officials in Rajouri said two civilians were killed on the Indian side — a 13-year-old girl and a 51-year-old man — and three others were wounded.

Identifying the deceased as Tufail Hussain and Afiya, 13, sources said that mortar shells were falling in Baba Khori, Kalsiyan, Jhanghar, Makri and Tarya areas.

Tufail’s wife Jaitoon Begum was injured. The couple were sitting outside their house in Jhanghar area when a mortar shell fell nearby. Afiya hailed from Mendhar and she had come to the house of her relatives in the area.

They said that more than 1,500 people in about 15 villages were still trapped in their homes, which were in the direct line of fire.

A Defense official said that Pakistani troops used 120 mm mortar shells. “The Indian troops also retaliated effectively,” he said.

Dozens of families have migrated to safer places from forward areas of Jhanger Nowshera because of the firing and shelling that have been going on intermittently during past few days.

On Thursday a woman was killed in Nowshera Sector of Rajouri region while on Friday a BSF trooper was wounded after Pakistani Rangers resorted to indiscriminate firing.

Earlier this month, India accused Pakistani soldiers of killing two Indian soldiers and mutilating their bodies, an allegation Islamabad denied.

Last year, Indian and Pakistani soldiers engaged in some of the worst fighting along the Line of Control since the two nations agreed to the cease-fire accord.

Pakistan and India have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir, a territory claimed by both. They have fought two of their three wars over the region since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

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