Four Pakistani soldiers killed in separate clashes

Pakistan army says Indian troops opened fire across de facto border, killing one soldier, while three others killed in rebel stronghold of North Waziristan.

A Pakistani soldier stands guard at a hilltop post near the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan [File: Charlotte Greenfield/Reuters]

At least four Pakistani soldiers have been killed in two separate clashes on Thursday, the military said.

A statement from the Pakistani military condemned what it described as India’s “unprovoked” violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement in the Dewa sector, killing a soldier along the Line of Control, a de facto border that divides the disputed Kashmir region between India and Pakistan.

The Pakistani troops returned fire, it added, the latest in continued tensions between the two South Asian nuclear rivals.

There was no immediate comment from New Delhi but the two sides routinely accuse each other of unprovoked attacks in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is split between them and claimed by both in its entirety.

China also controls a part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over the Himalayan region since partition in 1947.

In another incident, three soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire during an operation against rebel hideouts in North Waziristan, a district in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the Afghan border.

Two attackers, including an Improvised Explosive Device expert, were also killed in the intelligence operation, the army said.

It provided no further details and the identity and nationality of the slain rebels were not known.

North Waziristan served as a headquarters for local and foreign rebels until 2017, when the army said it had cleared the mountainous region of fighters following several operations to eliminate the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban or TTP).

Successive operations have pushed the TTP towards neighbouring Afghanistan. Islamabad claims the group has now set up bases across the border to attack Pakistani security forces and civilians.

TTP is a separate group from the Afghan Taliban, although Pakistan’s rebel groups are often interlinked with those across the border.

There has been a sharp rise over the last year in attacks on security forces and civilians in North Waziristan district.

In the last week, there have been at least three separate attacks on security forces in the area and Thursday’s security operation appears to be a reaction to that.

Source: News Agencies