Tue, Aug 13, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Pakistan accuses India of shelling in border spat

Reuters, ISLAMABAD

Pakistan accused Indian troops of firing shells across the disputed border in Kashmir yesterday after last week’s killing of Indian soldiers set off a wave of skirmishes between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Tensions along the 740km Line of Control that divides Kashmir flared on Tuesday last week when five Indian soldiers were ambushed and killed in the Poonch region.

New Delhi blamed the attack on the Pakistani Army. Islamabad denied involvement.

A Pakistani Army official yesterday said a civilian was killed as a result of “unprovoked Indian shelling” in the Battal, Chirikot and Satwal sectors.

“Pakistan troops effectively responded to Indian firing,” the official said.

Indian officials were not immediately available for comment.

District administration officer Malik Ayub Awan said some of the family’s cattle also died in the firing before 4am in a village about 500m from the line.

The two armies have been exchanging fire on the front line since the ambush occurred, straining a ceasefire agreement that has largely held on the border since November 2003.

Tit-for-tat shelling are common along the Line of Control, but tensions have been high since the ambush, with India hinting at retaliation for one of the worst attacks since the neighbors signed a ceasefire in 2003.

Media have reported that Islamabad might redeploy some of its troops from the Afghan border, where it is fighting a separate Taliban-linked insurgency, to the eastern frontiers, but a Pakistani Army official said the option was not on the table.

Islamabad and New Delhi have been trying to restart stalled peace talks, possibly as early as this month, as well as organizing a possible meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in New York next month.

India has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers in Kashmir to put down an armed revolt that began in 1989.

In recent years, violence in the region has ebbed, but there has been little movement on a political settlement.

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