Exchange of fire continues on Pakistan-India border

No casualties reported but tension between nuclear-armed neighbours continues to grow along Kashmir border.

Indian authorities order evacuation of villages near border with Pakistan
Indian border villages are being evacuated following the rising tension between the neighbours [EPA]

Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged fresh fire across the de facto Kashmir border, Pakistan’s military said, following an overnight attack on an Indian army camp in which one soldier was killed.

No casualties were reported in the latest skirmish on Monday, which came five days after India said its troops had crossed the border to carry out “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control (LoC) that separates the disputed territory – a claim Pakistan has flatly denied.

“Indian troops yet again resorted to unprovoked firing after midnight at the Line of Control in Iftikharabad sector and Pakistani troops befittingly responded,” Pakistan’s military said in a statement, adding the exchange ended in the morning.

It said troops also responded to unprovoked Indian firing in Nezapir and Kailer sectors. 

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The latest exchange came after attackers fired on an army camp in the Indian Kashmir town of Baramulla late on Sunday. Senior local police official Imtiyaz Hussain Mir told media between two and four attackers were involved.

Indian Kashmir police chief Danish Raja said up to five people were wounded at two other places along the LoC.

“There was a ceasefire violation in Sawjian and Shahpur in Poonch sector. Five people have been injured … The firing has stopped.”

The spike in tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals follows weeks of deadly protests in Kashmir. 

More than 80 civilians have been killed, mostly in clashes with forces during protests against Indian rule, in the worst violence in the region since 2010.

On September 18, at least 19 Indian soldiers were killed in an attack on the Uri army base, which India blamed on Pakistan-backed fighters.

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The escalation on both sides of the border could spiral out of control if the situation is not discussed by both countries, according to a retired Pakistan army official.

“The emotions are running high and things can go out of control, and it all depends on India right now, which is talking about the current situation in a state of anger,” Javed Hussain, a retired brigadier, told Al Jazeera.

“There are no talks taking place right now because Indians are in no mood to talk. Pakistan has offered to talk and take things from there, but there is no movement on the diplomacy front.”

Hussain also rejected India’s claims that the Uri attackers came from Pakistan.

“Rubbish. I’ve been to the LoC and crossing those lines is a very, very difficult military operation. There are layers of barbed wires and ditches and, according to India, the attackers passed through all that. It’s just not possible.”

Pakistan’s ‘dirty politics’

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain seven decades ago, two of them over Kashmir. Both claim the region in its entirety.

A number of armed separatist groups in the Indian-controlled part of the Kashmir valley have for decades fought to break free from Delhi.

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for carrying out the “surgical strikes” across the LoC.

Kejriwal had called Modi a “coward and psychopath” a few months ago, but backed the prime minister, urging him to unmask what he called Pakistan’s “dirty politics”.

“We may disagree on a hundred issues, but I salute his willpower in this matter,” said Kejriwal.

“Pakistan is flustered by the surgical strikes and has resorted to falsehoods to malign India’s global image. I appeal to the PM to expose their lies.” 

Additional reporting by Faras Ghani

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Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies