Two Muslim women were killed and another two civilians were wounded during exchanges between Indian and Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) - the border that splits the disputed Himalayan region.

Indian police said on Wednesday the civilians fell victim to what they alleged was "unprovoked artillery fire" by Pakistani forces.

They said the shelling also damaged at least half a doze
n houses in the Kupwara district.

Artillery duels between the Indian and Pakistani armies across the more than 600km LoC are common despite efforts by the nuclear-armed neighbours to improve ties.

Pakistani shelling 

Indian officials claim Pakistani shelling of several villages in the Kashmir valley has caused several deaths among troops and civilians in recent weeks.

But Islamabad has denied the charge and has accused Indian troops of targeting civilians on its part of the border.

Meanwhile, suspected Kashmiri Muslim fighters shot dead a pro-Indian National Conference Party activist in Srinagar on Wednesday.

The rivalrous neighbours have
fought two wars over Kashmir

Police and witnesses said that Gulam Ahmad Reshi, a range officer in the State Wildlife Department, was returning home from work when assailants opened fire on him.

A little-known separatist group, the Islamic Front, claimed responsibility for his death.

On Tuesday, suspected resistance fighters killed a leader of the ruling People's Democratic Party in the southern town of Pampore.

Indian soldier killed

Indian police said suspected separatists also killed a former colleague overnight who was recently relased from prison.

And another fighter and an Indian soldier were killed on Wednesday in a firefight in the village of Sangla in southerm Poonch district.

In another incident, Indian police said Kashmiri fighters killed a civilian during a botched kidnapping attempt in Kunadia village on Tuesday night. 

During the 14-year insurgency, nearly 40,000 people have officially died in Indian-administered Kashmir.

However, human rights and separatist groups put the death toll twice as high.

India accuses Pakistan of helping arm Kashmir separatists but Islamabad insists it only extends moral, political and diplomatic support.

Source: Aljazeera + Agencies