Two killed as soldiers trade fire in Kashmir

An Indian army soldier and a child were killed yesterday after Pakistani troops opened fire across a cease-fire line dividing the troubled region between India and Pakistan, Indian officials said.

Indian army spokesman Lt. Col. Manish Mehta said Pakistani troops fired mortar shells and automatic weapons in the Rajouri sector of Indian-controlled Kashmir yesterday. A mortar shell landed on a bunker, wounding a soldier who later died at a hospital.

Mehta called the Pakistani firing an “unprovoked” violation of a 2003 cease-fire between the neighbors and said Indian troops returned fire. Two civilians were wounded in the violence.

Senior police officer S.P. Vaid said that in the neighboring Poonch area, an 8-year-old girl was killed and her mother was wounded after a shell landed on their house.

Recent violence in the region has impacted at least 5,000 civilians who have homes in the area, according to local civil administrator Shahid Iqbal.

All schools in the area have been closed and at least 120 students were evacuated from a local school in armored vehicles after several shells landed near the school.

Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both in its entirety. The nuclear-armed rivals have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.

The two armies often blame each other for starting the firing across the cease-fire line. There was no immediate comment from Islamabad on the most recent violence.

Insurgents have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies. AP 

Categories Asia-Pacific