One dead as Pakistan and India trade accusations over 'border raid'

 

Pakistan and India traded accusations today of violating the boundary line dividing the two sides' forces in the disputed northern region of Kashmir.

Pakistan said an Indian cross-border raid on the border post killed one of its soldiers, while India said its troops had fired into Pakistan to retaliate for shelling that destroyed a home.

The accusation of a cross-border raid resulting in military deaths is rare in Kashmir, where a ceasefire has held between these two wary allies for a decade.

Tensions over the disputed region are never far from the surface, however, as the two nuclear-armed nations have fought two full-scale wars over Kashmir.

The Pakistani military's public relations office said in a statement today that another Pakistani soldier was critically wounded in the incident.

They said troops were still exchanging gunfire after a raid crossed the "line of control" dividing the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir in Haji Pir sector and raided a checkpoint called Sawan Patra, the military said.

The remote area where the incident occurred is up in Himalayan mountain peaks.

Colonel Brijesh Pandey, a spokesman for the Indian army in Kashmir, said that Pakistani troops "initiated unprovoked firing" and fired mortars and automatic weapons at Indian posts early in the morning. He said Pakistani shelling had destroyed a civilian home on the Indian side.

"We retaliated only using small arms. We believe it was clearly an attempt on their part to facilitate infiltration of militants," he said.

India often accuses Pakistan of sending militants into the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, often under cover of these types of skirmishes.

Kashmir is a mountainous region in the northern parts of Indian and Pakistan that has been a flashpoint of violence between these two neighbours for decades.

Both claim the entire region as their own, and the countries fought two full-scale wars over control of Kashmir and some minor skirmishes.

A 2003 ceasefire ended the most recent round of fighting.

Each side occasionally accuses the other of violating it by lobbing mortars or shooting across the LOC, but accusations of cross-border raids are rare.

AP

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