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Pakistan: Indian Cross-border Fire Kills 6 Civilians

An injured Indian civilian of cross border firing gets down from an ambulance at the Government Medical College hospital in Jammu, India, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015.

Pakistan’s military says “unprovoked” cross-border shelling from India has killed at least six civilians and wounded 46 more.

An official statement said Friday 22 women were among those wounded. “Pakistani troops are befittingly responding to Indian firing,” it added.

Indian media quote border officials on their side as saying that three civilians were killed and 16 injured in the pre-dawn “unprovoked heavy and indiscriminate shelling by Pakistan” in the area. The border officials say that India has "appropriately" retaliated.

The skirmishes are happening along a 200-kilometer so-called Working Boundary that separates Pakistan’s Punjab province from the Indian-controlled portion of the divided Kashmir region.

Border security forces of India and Pakistan have been intermittently trading fire in the area for months, with mostly civilian casualties on both sides. The skirmishes also have forced thousands of villagers in both countries to flee to safety.

Pakistani officials announced earlier this week that the border security forces chiefs of India and Pakistan will meet in New Delhi September 9 to discuss among other things the firing incidents that have also extended to areas along the so-called Line of Control, which divides Kashmir.

However, a wide-ranging bilateral dialogue on how to normalize ties, resolve the Kashmir territorial dispute and other issues remains suspended, although diplomatic, trade and transport channels are open.

National security advisors of India and Pakistan were scheduled to meet in New Delhi this past Monday but the interaction was canceled at the last moment after differences about the agenda for those talks.

In Washington, the State Department expressed concern about recent violent incidents between the two countries.

“The relationship between India and Pakistan is critical to achieving peace and stability in South Asia. We are extremely concerned by reports of violence along the working boundary and Line of Control. We call on both sides to engage in dialogue to reduce tensions,” spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala said.

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