India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan

At least four civilians were killed and 13 others wounded Saturday in deadly skirmishes between troops of India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir, officials said.

India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan
Three civilians were killed and 10 wounded in Balkot and Sabjian sectors of Poonch in Indian-controlled Kashmir, while one civilian was killed and three others were wounded in Nakyal sector of Kotli in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

“Three civilians were killed in fresh shelling from across the LoC in Balakote sector, while as 10 others were wounded today,” a government spokesman said. “Two of the critically wounded have been airlifted to Jammu hospital for treatment.”

The heavy exchange in the sector was going on intermittently since Friday evening.India’s official broadcaster – All India Radio (AIR) quoted military spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta as saying Pakistani troops resorted to firing of 60 mm and 82 mm mortar shells on forward posts and civilian areas along LoC in Mandi, Hamirpur and Saujiyan sectors of Poonch.

Indian officials said they were effectively retaliating to firing from Pakistan.

According to Pakistan’s official broadcaster – Radio Pakistan, a civilian was killed and three others were wounded in unprovoked Indian firing in Nakyal sector of Kotli.

The broadcaster quoted Pakistan military’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) as saying Pakistani troops were effectively responding to the Indian firing.

On Friday, reports said that on Pakistani side a woman was killed, while her two daughters and husband were wounded when an Indian mortar struck their home in the Nezapir sector.

The fresh skirmishes have triggered panic among the civilians on both sides of LoC, who according to reports have started fleeing from their houses.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his independence day speech ignored the customary reference of reaching out to its neighbouring country Pakistan.

However, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday said his nation believes in “peaceful co-existence” with India, though it would not comprise if its defense and security came under threat.

Indian-controlled Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed Saturday called for immediate de-escalation of tensions along the LoC in the wake of deadly skirmishes, urging political leadership of India and Pakistan to respect and uphold the cease-fire put in place during 2003.

“Ironically at a time when the two countries should have been celebrating their independence, they are engaged in virulent and dangerous confrontation along the borders,” Sayeed said.

“New Delhi and Islamabad must without delay open the channels of communication, realizing the dangerous consequences of any escalation of ongoing confrontation along the borders.”

LoC is a de facto border that divides Kashmir into India- and Pakistan- controlled parts.

The troops of India and Pakistan intermittently exchange fire on the 720-km-long LoC and 198 km International Border (IB) in Kashmir, despite an agreement in 2003 to observe cease-fire. Though some violations have been reported on both sides, the cease- fire however remains in effect.

Both New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other of resorting to unprovoked firings and violating cease-fire agreements. And both sides maintain that their troops gave befitting reply to the other side.

The new cycle of cease-fire violations came after heads of the two countries last month agreed to restart bilateral talks to discuss all outstanding issues during their meeting at Russia’s Ufa.

The two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir and both claim the territory in full.
India and Pakistan share strained relations over a host of issues including Kashmir.The first-ever security level talks between the two countries are scheduled to be held on Aug. 23 in New Delhi. The cease-fire violations on LoC and IB in Kashmir are likely to be on the agenda. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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