Indian and Pakistani soldiers shelled military outposts and villages along their highly militarized frontier in disputed Kashmir yesterday, in an outbreak of new violence despite stepped-up diplomatic efforts by the rival countries to ease tensions.
The two armies accused each other of initiating the artillery and mortar fire and small-arms gunfire. No casualties were immediately reported.
Tensions have been high since Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan last week, carrying out what India called a pre-emptive strike against militants blamed for a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.
Pakistan retaliated, shooting down two Indian planes and capturing a pilot, who was later returned to India in a peace gesture. The two countries have also resumed bus and train services that were stopped following the escalation of tensions, the most serious in the long-simmering conflict since 1999, when Pakistan’s military sent a ground force into Indian-controlled Kashmir.
In another effort aimed at easing tension with India, Pakistan on Tuesday arrested dozens of people including the brother of the leader of the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group, which claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in Kashmir.
Among the detainees were Mufti Abdul Rauf and Hammad Azhar, two prominent members of the group who were on a list of suspects given by India to Pakistan over the weekend.
Pakistan yesterday continued a crackdown on seminaries, mosques and hospitals belonging to outlawed groups, saying the actions were part of its efforts to fight terrorism, extremism and militancy. AP