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China Daily Website

India, Pakistan armies exchange fire in Kashmir

Updated: 2013-09-28 08:36
( Xinhua)

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir - India and Pakistan troops Friday fired at each other's positions on the line-of-control (LoC) in Kashmir, officials said.

The cease-fire violation took place in the evening in Mendhar sector of frontier Poonch district, about 185 km southwest of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

"Pakistani army today at 4:45 p.m. (local time) violated cease- fire and targeted our positions in Mendhar area," said S N Acharaya, Indian army spokesman in Jammu. "Our side also retaliated to Pakistani firing with similar caliber weapons."

According to Acharaya, intermittent firing was going on until last reports came in.

"Our side has not suffered any damage due to Pakistani firing," he said.

The confrontation between the armies of two nuclear neighbors on the LoC has come at a time when prime ministers from both countries are preparing to meet in New York this weekend.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are likely to meet on the sidelines of the 68th United Nations General Assembly.

New Delhi and Islamabad in 2003 agreed to observe cease-fire along the international border and LoC in Kashmir. 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.

Skirmishes between the two armies have been going on almost at daily basis since August 6. The majority of the exchanges took place on the LoC in Poonch. Both sides have suffered troop as well as civilian casualties during the standoff on the 720 km long LoC.

Both India and Pakistan blame each other of resorting to unprovoked firing that triggers skirmishes resulting in civilian or troop casualties on either side.

On Thursday, 13 people, including four Indian army troopers, four Indian policemen and two civilians were killed in twin militant attacks on an army base and a police station in Jammu province. The daylong offensive on the army base in Samba district ended with killing of three militants. Indian army moved tanks and used helicopters to fight militants who forcibly entered their base.

Though the attack was seen as an effort to derail the meeting between the two country heads, Singh issued a statement saying the twin militant attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir would not deter India from pursuing peace through dialogue.

New Delhi accuses Islamabad of providing arms and training to Kashmiri militants. However, Islamabad says it only provides moral and political support to Kashmiris.

India's right-wing parties including main opposition and Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party criticized Singh for his commitment to hold talks with Sharif in wake of Thursday's twin attacks and cease-fire violation on the LoC.

Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan is claimed by both in full.

Since their Independence from British, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.

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