Pakistan and India have been locked in renewed military skirmishes across their disputed border in Kashmir for the past two days, with each side accusing the other of initiating the fight.
A Pakistan army spokesman said Saturday that at least six civilians, including children, had sustained “serious injuries” on its side of the divided Himalayan region.
Major-General Babar Iftikhar accused Indian troops of using artillery and heavy mortars to “deliberately” target villages near the Kashmir cease-fire boundary, known as the Line of Control (LoC).
Pakistan army troops responded effectively with matching caliber, he added, targeting those Indian Army posts which initiated fire.”
For its part, India accused Pakistani troops of starting the latest round of hostilities by attacking “forward posts and villages” along the LoC.
Indian media quoted an army spokesman as saying that Pakistani forces early Saturday resumed their aggression with small arms and intense shelling, prompting a “befitting response” by the Indian army.
Military clashes along the LoC have become routine in recent years, tearing apart a 2002 truce in Kashmir between the two nuclear-armed rivals.
Gen. Iftikhar accused India of committing 708 ceasefire violations since the beginning of the year, killing two civilians and injuring 42 others. He did not share details of any military casualties.
Officials in New Delhi are reported to have claimed around 1,100 ceasefire violations by Islamabad in 2020.
Kashmir has sparked two of the three wars between India and Pakistan, and it continues to be the primary source of tensions in bilateral ties.
Tensions have escalated particularly since August 2019 when India unilaterally revoked the decades-old constitutionally enshrined semi-autonomous status of the two-thirds of the disputed territory it administers.
Pakistan rejected the move as a violation of U.N. security council resolutions on Kashmir and existing bilateral agreements, saying neither side is allowed to unilaterally alter the status of the internationally recognized disputed territory.
Islamabad has, with the help of close ally China, raised the issue at the U.N. Security Council. But New Delhi has rejected any foreign intervention, saying the revocation of Kashmir’s status is India’s internal matter.