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Central & South Asia

Pakistani soldiers injured in Kashmir firing

Two soldiers injured in exchange of fire with Indian troops, hours after five Indian soldiers killed in disputed region.

Last Modified: 07 Aug 2013 14:40
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Two Pakistani soldiers have been wounded in an exchange of fire with Indian troops in the disputed region of Kashmir, military officials say.

The incident came hours after five Indian soldiers were killed near the Line of Control - the de facto border between the two countries in Kashmir - in an attack that India alleged was carried out by "terrorists" backed by Pakistan.

A Pakistani military official blamed "unprovoked Indian firing" for injuries to the Pakistanis on Tuesday afternoon and said that senior army commanders on both sides had spoken over a special hotline.

The Pakistani military routinely denies involvement in aggressive actions but... nobody in India buys those denials. The fact is that here in India there is public outrage over these killings.

Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at New Delhi Centre for Policy Research

A senior Indian army officer in northern Kashmir confirmed that two Pakistani soldiers had been wounded in an exchange of machinegun fire in the Kamalkot Uri sector in Indian-administered Kashmir around midday on Tuesday.

He said Pakistani troops had opened fire and Indian forces had retaliated.

The incident came after five Indian soldiers were killed in an attack in the Poonch area of Kashmir.

India initially directly blamed Pakistan's army for the attack, but later AK Antony, India's defence minister, said that the attack had been carried out by 20 "heavily armed terrorists along with others dressed in Pakistani army uniforms".

Pakistan's military denied that its troops had been involved in any attack on the Indian soldiers.

Hotline contact

The Directors-General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both countries spoke on Tuesday, Pakistan's military said, with Pakistani Maj-Gen Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmed "strongly rejecting" Indian allegations that Pakistan had violated the 2003 ceasefire.

Pakistan's military said that it had registered it's "strong protest" over the injuring of the two Pakistani soldiers on Tuesday.

The tit-for-tat violence is threatening to derail the resumption of peace talks between the two countries.

Pakistan has proposed a high-level meeting with Indian officials to restart the process. They were meant to resume earlier this year, but were suspended after similar violence broke out in Kashmir.

New Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made improving trade with India a central plank of his campaign. But with elections looming in India, many are questioning whether the incumbent government can make concessions without being painted as weak by the opposition.

The picturesque Himalayan territory of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by the UN-monitored LoC, the de facto border, but it is claimed in full by both countries.

The Pakistani foreign ministry said Islamabad was committed to the ceasefire in Kashmir and wanted a strengthening of existing channels to stop "such ill-founded reports" in the future.

471

Source:
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