SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir,Skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani troops on the international border in Kashmir continued Thursday, with both sides accusing each other of resorting to unprovoked firing and targeting civilian areas.
Both New Delhi and Islamabad Thursday said heavy exchange of fire and mortars between the two sides took place Wednesday night and continued until Thursday morning.
Indian officials Thursday said eight people including three border guards of the Border Security Force (BSF) were wounded in fresh firing.
It was reported that nearly 20,000 people living close to the border have migrated to safer places in wake of the heavy firing.
Indian officials said Pakistani firing has so far left eight people dead and over 75 others including some BSF personnel wounded since the beginning of this month, while Pakistani media reported 12 people on their side were killed due to Indian firing on the Kashmir border near Sialkot.
According to Pakistani newspaper Dawn, two people were killed in Sialkot on Thursday due to Indian firing, taking the death toll to 12 with 43 others wounded.
Both Indian and Pakistani television news channels showed video footage of wounded people from their sides lying on hospital beds and residents holding metal propellers of mortars and rockets in front of their damaged houses.
Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitely Thursday accused Pakistan of resorting to unprovoked firing on the Kashmir border and said it would be unaffordable for Pakistan to indulge in what he referred “adventurism.”
However, Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan was fully capable to respond to any Indian aggression and India should act in a responsible manner.
“We do not want to convert border tension between two nuclear neighbors into a confrontation,” Pakistan’s official broadcaster Radio Pakistan quoted him as saying in a defense ministry statement.
The cease-fire violations on the IB and Line of Control (LoC) resumed this month after a month-long gap and seem to be intensifying with each passing day.
So far there has been no calls for any flag-level meeting between the troopers from either side or any demand of restraint at a higher level.
Both New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other of resorting to unprovoked firings and violating cease-fire agreements, while maintaining that their troops gave befitting reply to the other side.
The troops of India and Pakistan intermittently exchange fire on the LoC and IB, despite an agreement in 2003 to observe cease- fire. Though some violations have been reported on both sides, the cease-fire remains in effect.
The LoC is a de facto border that divides Kashmir into India and Pakistan controlled parts. The LoC on both sides is guarded by army, while the IB is guarded by the BSF on Indian side and Pakistan Rangers on the other side.
Last year deadly skirmishes took place between Indian and Pakistani troops posted on the 720 km-long LoC and 198 km International Border in Kashmir. Both sides suffered troop as well as civilian casualties during the stand-off.
Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan, is claimed by both in full. Since their independence from Britain, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.
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