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Central & South Asia

India and Pakistan trade blame over Kashmir

Renewed accusations over cross-border firing come as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif calls for "new beginning".

Last Modified: 13 Aug 2013 18:15
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Indian Border Security Force soldiers patrol over a footbridge built over a stream near the Line of Control [Reuters]

India and Pakistan have again accused each other of firing across their disputed Kashmir border, the latest in a series of allegations of cross-border attacks made by both sides over the past week.

A Pakistan military source told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that Indian troops violated the Line of Control, the de-facto border between the two countries, for the third time since last week.

He said that on Monday evening in the Nikial sector of Pakistan-Administered Kashmir, Indian troops started unprovoked firing at Pakistani posts across the border.

The source added that Pakistani forces "responded effectively".

An Indian army commander, meanwhile, blamed Pakistani troops for firing intermittently through the night at two posts in the Mendhar sector on the de-facto border, 180km southwest of Srinagar, the main city in India's portion of Kashmir.

He said Indian soldiers responded as Pakistani troops used small arms, machine guns and mortars. No casualties were reported.

Both officials spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

'New beginning' needed

The accusations come as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for a "new beginning" in relations with India.

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Sharif said it was vital that the two South Asian neighbours became "good friends", in remarks published Tuesday by the Associated Press of Pakistan.

"Let us make a new beginning. Let us sit together to resolve all outstanding issues in a friendly manner and in a peaceful atmosphere," he said.

Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan but divided between them.

Pakistan and India have long been enemies and have fought three wars - two over Kashmir - since both gained independence from Britain in 1947.

Pakistan had earlier accused Indian troops of shelling its territory along the border on Monday and killing a civilian.

India denied the charge, saying Pakistani troops initiated the firing.

Peace talks threatened

A 2003 cease-fire agreement has largely calmed the military line between the countries, although each side occasionally accuses the other of violating it by firing mortars or gunshots across the line of control.

The resumption of violence threatens to sabotage recent overtures by the two aimed at resuming peace talks and increasing cross-border trade.

India accused Pakistani soldiers and fighters of crossing into its portion of Kashmir a week ago and killing five Indian soldiers. Officials say the incident was the deadliest along the line of control since 1999 when the two armies fought pitched battles in the Himalayan region of Kargil.

Pakistan denied its soldiers killed any Indian troops, and accused Indian soldiers of severely wounding a Pakistani citizen along the border last Thursday. India denied the allegation.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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