Pakistani fire kills 3 Indian troops, one officer in Kashmir: India
India says “Pakistani” fire has claimed the lives of three Indian soldiers and an officer in Indian-controlled Kashmir along the unofficial border with Pakistan, known as the Line of Control (LoC), in the latest cross-border clashes between the bitter rivals in the disputed Himalayan territory.
The Indian army announced the news in a statement on Saturday, saying the Indian soldiers lost their lives in the Rajouri sector of the volatile region earlier in the day, when “Pakistani troops” purportedly started firing across the border.
Shesh Paul Vaid, the director general of police in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, further said in the statement that “Border Action Teams,” which Indian officials claim are made up of Pakistani troops and militants, were behind the cross-border shooting.
There was no immediate response from Pakistani authorities to the incident.
New Delhi regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training militants and allowing them across the restive frontier in an attempt to launch attacks on Indian forces. Pakistan, however, strongly denies the allegation and accuses India of committing “war crimes” in Kashmir and “exporting terror” to Pakistan.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both since the two were partitioned and gained independence from Britain in 1947. The two countries have fought three wars over the disputed territory.
The countries reached a ceasefire in Kashmir in 2003. The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has been monitoring the border for decades. However, sporadic skirmishes continue in Kashmir.
The Muslim-majority region has witnessed an increase in mass protests and violence since early July 2016, when Burhan Wani, a top figure in a pro-independence group, was killed in a shootout with Indian troops. Over 100 protesters have also lost their lives and more than 12,000 have been injured in the ensuing crackdown.
People in Indian-controlled Kashmir have for years demanded independence or a merger with Pakistan. India, however, has ignored the call and continues to police the region with a 500,000-strong military force. About 70,000 people have been killed in India’s crackdown in Kashmir since 1989.