India-Pakistan cross-border shelling hits Kashmir

Civilians and troops killed on sixth day of shelling as Indian and Pakistan trade charges of initiating the violence.

    India and Pakistan have accused each other of initiating the current violence [Channi Anand/AP]
    India and Pakistan have accused each other of initiating the current violence [Channi Anand/AP]

    Six civilians and a soldier have been killed along the border between India and Pakistan on the sixth consecutive day of shelling in the divided Kashmir region, reports say.

    Indian police told the Associated Press news agency that at least five civilians were killed and 30 more injured on the Indian side on Wednesday when Pakistani soldiers targeted Indian border posts and villages with mortars and automatic gunfire in Indian-administered Kashmir's Jammu region.

    Pakistani security forces, for their part, told AP that a civilian and a soldier were killed as they exchanged fire with their Indian counterparts near Sialkot in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province.

    Several people, including three border guards, were wounded, the Pakistani officials told AP.

    An Indian government official told AFP news agency at least 80,000 people living along the border between Jammu and Pakistan's Punjab have fled their homes since Friday.

    "Some have gone to their relatives and for others, we are arranging shelter, food and water," Hemant Kumar Sharma, a local divisional officer, told AFP.

    Schools within five kilometres of the border were reportedly closed by Indian authorities.

    AFP said the total death toll of the six-day escalation in fighting now stood at 16.

    Trading charges

    India and Pakistan have accused each other of initiating the latest round of fighting in Kashmir. 

    AP has quoted Pakistan as saying Indian forces violated a 2003 ceasefire agreement more than 1,050 times this year, killing 28 civilians and injuring 117. 

    The AP report cited India as saying that 25 civilians and 18 government troops have been killed this year in more than 800 ceasefire violations initiated by Pakistan.

    Hostilities have flared between security forces and separatist groups in Indian-administered Kashmir during recent months.

    More than 270 separatist fighters have been killed in operations led by the Indian army since last year, officials say.

    India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir, which has been divided between the two nuclear powers since 1947 across the so-called Line of Control, in its entirety.

    Widespread protests took place across the region following the death of four civilians and one Indian soldier during a gun battle in Kulgam district, almost 100km south of Srinagar, a month ago.

    Tens of thousands of people have died in the decades-old conflict.

    SOURCE: News agencies


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