At least six civilians killed on the Indian side, while two others died in the Pakistani side as shelling continues.
Artillery fire continued between nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India across the de facto border in Kashmir as tensions ratchet up after a deadly attack on Indian soldiers last month.
Pakistan’s military alleged that Indian forces fired without provocation on Wednesday, an attack that wounded one woman but did not cause substantial damage on Pakistan’s side of the divided Himalayan territory.
Forces from Pakistan then retaliated.
“Around 5pm there was heavy firing going on continually. Everyone was scared and harassed and came out of their homes,” Mirza Hamid, a resident in Bhimber district, told Al Jazeera.
“The firing is still ongoing … we still can hear it.”
Mehmood, 35, from the Kotli district, described “extreme” shelling and mortar fire that calmed down after 7pm local time.
“People are very scared. There are no cars on the road. We have seen this kind of shelling so many times before … People had to leave those homes,” he said.
Calls to Indian military officials in the region seeking comment rang unanswered.
Pakistani sources say there has been frequent movement in recent days of military equipment towards the Line of Control – the de facto border separating Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
Mirza Arshad, a police deputy commissioner, told Al Jazeera that 100 to 150 people had been evacuated on Wednesday after the shelling and were sheltering in schools in Bhimber district.
“There was firing for about 1-1.5 hours … but there’s no report of any human losses,” he said.
Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan. The two countries have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 – two over Kashmir.
The latest tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours follow the killing of 18 Indian soldiers in a cross-border attack by suspected Kashmiri rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir last month.
In response, India’s military said it had conducted “surgical strikes” against “terrorist units” on Pakistan’s side of the border. Pakistan rejected the claims as an “illusion”.