Thu, Aug 08, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Pakistani troops wounded in Kashmir confrontation

EXCHANGE OF FIRE:The tit-for-tat violence in the disputed region is threatening to derail the resumption of peace talks between the two nuclear-armed nations

Reuters, ISLAMABAD and KARACHI, Pakistan

A demonstrator shouts anti-Pakistan slogans in Ahmedabad, India, yesterday during a protest over the death of five Indian Army soldiers in cross-border exchanges.

Photo: AFP

Two Pakistani soldiers were wounded in an exchange of fire with Indian troops along the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir in the latest flareup of tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, officials on both sides said yesterday.

The shooting came just hours after India accused Pakistani forces of killing five Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir in a incident that threatened to derail repeatedly stalled peace talks.

A Pakistani military official blamed “unprovoked Indian firing” for injuries to the Pakistanis on Tuesday afternoon and said that senior army commanders on both sides had spoken over a special hotline.

“Pakistan Army DG MO [director general of military operations] strongly and categorically rejected Indian allegations of LOC violation by Pakistani troops,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss operational issues with the press.

A senior Indian army officer in northern Kashmir said two Pakistani soldiers had been wounded — or possibly killed — in an exchange of machine-gun fire in the Kamalkot Uri sector in northern Kashmir around midday on Tuesday.

He said Pakistani troops had opened fire and Indian forces had retaliated.

The tit-for-tat violence is threatening to derail the resumption of peace talks between the two countries.

Pakistan has proposed a high-level meeting with Indian officials to restart the process.

They were meant to resume earlier this year, but were suspended after similar violence broke out in Kashmir.

New Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made improving trade with India a central plank of his campaign, but with elections looming in India, many are questioning whether the incumbent government can make any concessions to its neighbor without being painted as weak by the opposition.

Meanwhile, a bomb killed 11 people in a poor district of Pakistan’s financial hub of Karachi yesterday, mostly teenagers playing street soccer at a crowded market, officials said.

The sweltering port of 18 million people is largely inured to violence — about a dozen bodies are found around the city every day — but the killing of so many youngsters shocked many residents.

“There was total chaos when the bomb went off. People were screaming and running for safety,” local resident Zafar Baluch said.

It was unclear who was behind the blast in Lyari District, a stronghold of the main opposition Pakistan People’s Party.

Karachi is home to many militant groups, including the Taliban. Many political parties there have armed wings to fight turf wars.

The attack appeared to be aimed at Provincial Minister Javed Nagori, who was to hand out prizes at the soccer match, Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon said.

The children had been playing while their parents shopped for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid.

In the run-up to Eid, many markets open all night since residents are fasting during the day.

“There was smoke everywhere and people were covered in glass,” said Sheree, who did not want to give her last name.

She was near Nagori’s convoy when the blast knocked her off her feet. She saw the bodies of three children, she said.

In the capital Islamabad, security forces have been put on high alert until the holiday is over.

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