India, Pakistan exchange fire over de facto Kashmir border

Indian and Pakistani forces have exchanged mortar shells and rifle fire in the disputed Kashmir region, leaving multiple casualties on both sides.

India said on Sunday that two soldiers and a civilian were killed in Pakistani shelling, while Pakistan said six died on its side.

The Dawn daily cited Pakistani officials as saying that Indian troops also injured nine, including women and young girls, as they resorted to “indiscriminate and ruthless” attacks from across the border.

It quoted Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider as saying that the Indian forces based in Indian-administered Kashmir had “gone berserk.”

The worst-hit areas were the Nauseri sector of Muzaffarabad district and its adjoining sector of Neelum Valley.

“The shelling began before midnight and it was the heaviest [so far],” said Muzaffarabad Deputy Commissioner Badar Munir. “They [Indian troops] used field artillery and mortars and targeted civilian populations.”

Kashmiri residents evacuate from the border town of Chakothi in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, some three kilometers from the Line of Control (LoC), on February 27, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

India confirmed the attacks, saying its forces caused heavy damage and casualties to the Pakistani side.

The people in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir want to be separated from Hindu-dominated India.

Kashmir remains a flashpoint since the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. The nuclear-armed countries claim the region in full but control only parts of it.

India recently scrapped the semi-autonomy of its part of Kashmir, sparking a new wave of tensions over the region.

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