x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Kashmir clashes spark outcries by Pakistan and India

The clashes follow a pledge a few weeks ago by the prime ministers of the two countries to restore calm along the Line of Control.

A villager displays parts of a mortar shell casing which he says hit his home and his livestock at the village in Jodafarm, in Kashmir. AFP
A villager displays parts of a mortar shell casing which he says hit his home and his livestock at the village in Jodafarm, in Kashmir. AFP

ISLAMABAD // Pakistan accused Indian troops of killing a civilian and wounding two others in “unprovoked firing” across the border on Saturday as New Delhi voiced “grave concern” about the new military flare-up in disputed Kashmir.

The Himalayan region has been the spark of two of three wars fought by India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947.

In Islamabad, a Pakistani military official said a civilian was killed and two others injured by “unprovoked firing of heavy weapons including mortars by Indian Border Security Forces” near the eastern city of Sialkot in eastern Punjab province.

On Thursday, Pakistan accused India of killing a paramilitary soldier in “unprovoked firing” across the border in the same region.

India’s foreign minister, Salman Khurshid, described the military flare-up as a “serious matter”.

“This is a matter of great concern to India,” Mr Khurshid said.

The Press Trust of India said two paramilitary soldiers of the Border Security Force (BSF) were hurt in overnight Friday attacks by Pakistani troops.

BSF troops “retaliated strongly”, PTI reported, and added the attack was the latest in a string of five violations in the past 24 hours of a 2003 truce along Kashmir’s disputed border.

“We will handle it with the greatest sagacity, greatest firmness and determination to protect both the sovereignty and the safety and security of our citizens,” Mr Khurshid.

The clashes follow a pledge a few weeks ago by the prime ministers of the two countries at a meeting on the sidelines of a UN conference to restore calm along the Line of Control, the heavily militarised de facto border dividing Kashmir.

A spike in fighting along the line in January stalled peace talks which had only just resumed following a three-year hiatus sparked by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

More violence erupted along the line after five Indian soldiers were killed in a raid in August.

New Delhi blamed that ambush on the Pakistan army, but Islamabad denied the claims and has repeatedly called for restraint and dialogue.

* Agence France-Presse