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India Again Claims Border Cease-Fire Violation by Pakistan

India says its troops along the Line of Control dividing Kashmir were shelled Thursday morning from the Pakistani side. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi that it is the latest in a recent series of alleged cease-fire violations involving the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

India's army says at least six mortar shells were lobbed at its troops from across the Line of Control. An Indian military spokesman in Jammu says no soldiers were hurt and they did not retaliate.

The 750-kilometer long de facto border had been relatively calm for nearly five years since a peace process began between India and Pakistan. But there have been seven reported violations in the past month and more than 20 this year.

India contends that such firings by the Pakistanis provide cover for Islamist guerrillas to slip across the de facto international border to join a Muslim separatist rebellion that began in 1989 in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Kashmiri students held anti-India rallies Thursday in Srinigar to protest killings of Muslims by Indian forces during recent demonstrations.

In this latest border incident India claims one of its posts, 80 miles northwest of Jammu, was hit by mortar shells over a 45-minute period. The Indians say they are unsure if the firing was conducted by Pakistani soldiers or insurgents.

A Pakistani military official says there has been no report received of any incident along the line of control on Thursday.

Pakistan denies aiding the infiltrators into India, but considers them freedom fighters.

Colonel Satinder Saini, at India's Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis, says while Indian soldiers were restrained during the latest barrage, they could be provoked to return fire.

"In case the fire is effective or the security of a defended locality is threatened you may find that even Indian troops may retaliate, but nothing of any serious nature. It'll be kind of a controlled retaliation in response to any action by them but nothing beyond that," said Saini.

Colonel Saini, who previously commanded a battalion on the Line of Control, says he does not believe Pakistan's military is eager to increase tensions because of the domestic security challenges the Pakistanis are facing.

"The [Pakistani] army would not like to escalate the situation because all their reserves are committed at the moment in fighting violence and terrorism within Pakistan and on the western borders," he added.

Kashmir is divided into two parts, with India and Pakistan both claiming the whole of it. Three of their four armed conflicts since partition of the subcontinent in 1947 have been triggered by their dispute over the region.