Pakistani and Indian forces trade fire along LoC in disputed Kashmir region, killing at least nine over past two days.
An official in the Pakistani-administered area of Kashmir has accused Indian forces of firing mortar shells that targeted a village along the disputed Line of Control, leaving three children dead and three others injured.
“Two girls and their brother died when mortar shells fired by Indian troops hit their house in Kotli district along the Line of Control (LOC),” Raja Arif Mehmood, a local administration official, told AFP news agency on Saturday.
He said the eldest girl was aged 10 and the youngest girl was five.
“All belonged to the same family,” he added.
Indian news sites citing government sources have also reported ongoing clashes in another Kashmir district, Pulwama, but made no mention of the three child deaths in Kotli.
The reports from Indian Express and Times of India claimed that armed men in the Kakapora area of Pulwama opened fire at Indian security forces.
Indian forces exchanged fire with the group, killing one fighter, they added.
Both Pakistani military and Indian defence officials have confirmed the exchange of fire along the LOC.
“Indian troops resort to unprovoked firing in Tander and Baroh areas of Bhimber sector today,” said a statement issued by the Pakistani military, adding that no loss of life was reported in those clashes.
‘Unprovoked ceasefire violation’
An unnamed Indian defence spokesman confirmed to Indian media clashes in two areas of Rajouri district along the LOC, blaming the Pakistani army for the “unprovoked ceasefire violation”.
The latest incidents come a day after Pakistan’s navy said that it had “pushed” an Indian submarine away from Pakistani waters, as tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals continue to smoulder over unrest in the disputed Kashmir region.
Tensions across the long-disputed de facto Himalayan border reached dangerous levels in September, when India blamed Pakistani armed groups for a raid on an army base that killed 19 soldiers.
India said it had responded by carrying out “surgical strikes” across the heavily militarised border, sparking a furious reaction from Islamabad, which denied the strikes took place.
There have since been repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing, with both sides reporting deaths and injuries including of civilians.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the Himalayan territory in full and have fought two wars over the mountainous region.