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Pakistan: Cross-Border Indian Firing Kills 4 Civilians


FILE - Indian army soldiers walk near the Line of Control (LOC) trade center at the Chakan Da Bagh, in Poonch, 245 kilometers northwest of Jammu, India, Jan. 14, 2013.

Pakistan on Wednesday said Indian troops fired across the de facto Kashmir border, known as the Line of Control, killing four civilians and injuring another.

A late-night army statement said India violated a mutually agreed-on cease-fire and “initiated unprovoked” firing against villages in the Pakistani-ruled part of the divided Himalayan region.

“Pakistan army troops responded effectively to Indian firing,” it added.

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Kashmir

There was no immediate reaction available from Indian officials.

New Delhi controls two-thirds of Kashmir and Islamabad the rest, with both countries claiming the region in its entirety.

The nuclear-armed South Asian rivals agreed in 2003 to halt military clashes across the Kashmir Line of Control as part of efforts to ease tensions and normalize relations.

However, military skirmishes have become almost a daily affair over the past couple of years, rendering the cease-fire ineffective.

Indian and Pakistani forces accuse each other of starting the violence that has inflicted scores of security and civilian casualties on both sides.

A historically acrimonious bilateral relationship has deteriorated since last August when India unilaterally stripped semiautonomy of its administered part of Kashmir.

Indian authorities simultaneously also imposed a strict security lockdown, coupled with a communication blockade, in the majority-Muslim state to deter violent reaction against the moves from Kashmiris. The restrictions have since been partially eased.

Islamabad rejected Indian actions, saying Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute under a decades-old U.N. Security Council resolution and neither side could unilaterally alter the status.

Pakistan also downgraded diplomatic and trade ties with India, demanding a reversal of the Kashmir-related moves.

New Delhi, however, has rebutted the criticism, describing the measures as its internal matter.

Tension with China

Wednesday’s clashes came amid India’s ongoing border tension with China, which led to a military skirmish Monday that left 20 Indian troops dead.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a local television channel Wednesday that “according to my information, Chinese forces suffered some casualties but there were no fatalities on their side.”

Islamabad and Beijing are longtime staunch allies, and both accuse New Delhi of escalating regional tensions.

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