Close to war: Indian, Pakistani armies exchange fire in Kashmir for 8th straight day


  Indian, Pakistani armies exchange fire in Kashmir for 8th straight day


SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) — The armies of India and Pakistan exchanged fire again on Saturday on the line-of-control (LoC) in Kashmir for the eighth straight day, officials said.

The ceasefire violations took place along the LoC in Mendhar and Hamirpur of frontier Poonch district, around 185 km southwest of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

“Cease fire violations in Mendhar and Hamirpur battalion area started at 21:45 (local time) on Friday. The intermittent firing continues till the last reports came in,” said S N Acharaya, Indian army spokesman in Jammu. “Small arms are being used and we are also retaliating.”

India’s official broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) Saturday said two civilians were wounded in village Dera Dibsi of Mendhar sector when a mortar fired by Pakistani army exploded in village.

LoC is a de facto border that divides Kashmir into India and Pakistan controlled parts.

Both India and Pakistan blame each other for resorting to unprovoked firing that has triggered skirmishes and resulted in civilian or troop casualties on either side.

Last week five Indian troops were killed and another wounded in a deadly ambush near Sarla in Poonch. India accused Pakistani troops of entering into its territory and carrying out the attack, a charge Pakistan has denied.

Following the incident a surge in ceasefire violations on LoC was recorded, after Indian Defense Minister A K Antony told media Indian armed forces have freedom to respond to the developing situation on the LoC appropriately.

Officials said an exchange of fire was also reported along LoC in Kargil and Drass sectors of Ladakh division of the region.

The killings and skirmishes on LoC have come at a time when New Delhi and Islamabad were trying to normalize ties and resume talks. Efforts have also been made for a meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly during the last week of September.

The confrontation on LoC between the two armies however has heightened tension between New Delhi and Islamabad and overshadowed the resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue process.

New Delhi and Islamabad in 2003 agreed to observe a ceasefire along the international border and LoC in Kashmir. Though some violations have been reported on both sides, the ceasefire remains in effect.

The latest incidents of firing have put a question mark on the 2003 agreement of the two nuclear neighbors.

Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan is claimed by both in full. Since their Independence from British, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.

Source: Xinhua

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