ISLAMABAD // Pakistani and Indian soldiers traded fire across the de-facto border dividing the disputed region of Kashmir today, Pakistan's military said, the second such clash in area this month. Military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said the Indian army fired machine guns and mortar bombs at the Pakistani side of the so-called Line of Control in Battal sector of Rawalakot district, where troops had a similar exchange of fire on July 10.
"We immediately responded and fired into the area from where the fire was coming. They later stopped firing," he said. Mr Abbas said there were no casualties on the Pakistani side. "We contacted the Indians and lodged a protest and asked for a flag meeting" of the local commanders, he added. The armies of the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours have frequently exchanged fire across the Line of Control in the past but such skirmishes became very rare after they agreed on a ceasefire in late 2003.
Both countries went to the brink of their fourth war in 2002. The recent exchanges of fire on the Kashmir border came as relations between the two old rivals, who have fought three wars mainly over Kashmir, have been strained by a suicide attack outside the Indian embassy in Kabul this month. Afghan and Indian officials have accused a Pakistani intelligence agency of involvement in the attack that killed 58 people, including two senior Indian diplomats. Pakistan has denied involvement in the attack.
Muslim rebels have been battling for freedom in the only Muslim-majority state of mainly Hindu India since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming, abetting and sending insurgents across the border into Kashmir. Pakistan denies the charge and says it only offers political support to what it calls a legitimate freedom struggle. * Reuters