x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pakistan accuses India of killing army officer in disputed Kashmir region

The Pakistani military says one of its officers has been killed by an "unprovoked" attack by Indian troops across the border in the disputed Kashmir region.

ISLAMABAD // The Pakistani military said yesterday that one of its officers had been killed by "unprovoked" attack by Indian troops across the border in the disputed Kashmir region.

But an Indian official said his side had only responded to initial Pakistani fire.

The incident was the latest in a series of clashes this month that has undermined a push by Pakistan's new civilian government to improve ties with old rival India.

A Pakistani military official said that in addition to the officer being killed, a soldier was seriously wounded in the "unprovoked Indian shelling".

The violence came two weeks after five Indian soldiers were killed along the so-called Line of Control that separates the two sides in the Himalayan region.

India said they were killed by Pakistani forces but Pakistan denied any involvement.

The countries have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over Kashmir. Both control a part of the Muslim-majority region but claim it in full.

A truce along their Kashmir border has held for nearly a decade even though it has been broken every now and then by tit-for-tat artillery fire and the occasional cross-border ambush.

Commenting on the latest incident, an Indian army official said Indian troops had come under heavy mortar and light-machine gunfire from the Pakistani side on Tuesday night in the Kargil region, where the two sides fought an undeclared war in 1999.

The region had been peaceful since then until shooting began again last week.

"Under intense pressure ... we fired back," the official said, adding that Indian forces later overheard Pakistani communications indicating soldiers were hurt on their side.

India has faced an insurgency in its part of Kashmir since 1989 and has long accused Pakistan of supporting the militants fighting Indian rule.

Pakistan denies arming the militants, saying that it only offers moral support to the Muslim people of Kashmir who are living under what Pakistan criticises as harsh Indian rule.