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Pakistan Blames India for Cross-border Shelling; 7 Troops Dead

  • Ayaz Gul

FILE - Pakistan army soldiers gather at a forward area post on the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India, in Tatta Pani, Pakistan, Oct. 1, 2016. On Monday, Pakistan's army claimed that Indian troops opened fire across the LOC, killing at least seven soldiers.

FILE - Pakistan army soldiers gather at a forward area post on the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India, in Tatta Pani, Pakistan, Oct. 1, 2016. On Monday, Pakistan's army claimed that Indian troops opened fire across the LOC, killing at least seven soldiers.

Pakistan says that “unprovoked” overnight shelling by India across the disputed Kashmir frontier killed seven Pakistani troops.

The incident occurred in Bhimber sector along the “Line of Control,” which separates Pakistani and Indian portions of the divided Himalayan region, according to a military statement issued Monday.

Pakistani troops retaliated and “effectively” targeted Indian posts, it said, without giving further details.

The Pakistan government condemned the deadly attack, adding that 26 civilians have died in recent Indian shelling, while more than 100 have been wounded.

"We are fully capable of defending our soil against any aggression. The Indian Forces have resorted to escalating tension on LoC (Line of Control) only to detract the world's attention from the grave human rights situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK)", an official statement quoted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as saying.

Pakistan has summoned the Indian High Commissioner to the Foreign Ministry to formally protest the killings of its soldiers.

The government in New Delhi has not yet responded to the allegation.

FILE - A Pakistani army officer points out the Indian forward-area posts to journalists at Bagsar post on the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India, Oct. 1, 2016. The two countries have fought two wars over the disputed Himalayan region.

FILE - A Pakistani army officer points out the Indian forward-area posts to journalists at Bagsar post on the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India, Oct. 1, 2016. The two countries have fought two wars over the disputed Himalayan region.

Locked in clashes

India and Pakistan have been locked in intense, intermittent military clashes in Kashmir for weeks but Monday’s causalities are the highest troop death toll any side has suffered so far.

The skirmishes have also caused civilian casualties on both sides, forcing thousands of villagers near the LoC to flee for safety.

The fighting has torn apart a 2003 mutual cease-fire in Kashmir, raising fears the current tensions could escalate into another war between India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's High Commissioner in New Delhi, Abdul Basit, has called for the restoration of the Kashmir cease-fire deal and the resumption of a sustained and irreversible peace dialogue to improve bilateral ties.

“I want to emphasize that war is not the solution to our problems. And I hope you would agree with me that if we have to find a solution to our disputes, we will have to do it only through sustained peace talks,” noted Basit as part of a public talk in the Indian city of Lucknow.

A wide-ranging dialogue between India and Pakistan to normalize relations remains suspended. New Delhi wants Islamabad to condemn groups allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in India from the Pakistani side.

Basit urged India to desist from attaching any preconditions for resuming the dialogue process.

Indian officials want Pakistan to expedite the trial of several suspected Islamists linked to the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks in which 166 people were killed.

But Islamabad insists New Delhi has not provided substantive evidence linking the suspects to the carnage in order to further the judicial process.

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