ISLAMABAD (AP) – Indian forces fired into the Pakistan-administered portion of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, wounding four children, Pakistan’s military said Wednesday, a sign of increasing tensions between two nuclear-armed rivals.
“Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian firing” after coming under attack in Kashmir, the military said in a statement. It said Indian fire wounded the children late Tuesday night when India “resorted to unprovoked firing” in the Nakial sector along the Line of Control in Kashmir.
Pakistan’s military said Indian forces resumed fire Wednesday morning in the Kailer and Nezapir sectors.
In New Delhi, the Indian army officials confirmed the incident, but blamed Pakistan for initiating the fire.
Two Indian army officials said the Pakistan army fired small arms and mortar shells at Indian positions in the Poonch sector late Tuesday in an “unprovoked attack.” They said Pakistan opened fire earlier Tuesday and the exchange of fire continued Wednesday.
The officials said Indian troops “retaliated.” The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to journalists.
Shantmanu, a senior government official in Indian-controlled Kashmir, said Pakistani fire wounded one civilian Tuesday.
Angered over the clashes, about 200 Kashmiri activists staged a sit-in Wednesday about 500 metres away from the Line of Control at Chakoti sector in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, asking India to stop the firing.
They also urged India to allow them to send supplies for those affected by recent floods in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 200 people.
The protesters wanted to hold the rally right on the Line of Control, but Pakistani troops stopped them half a kilometre away from the frontier. The activists belonged to various groups, including the anti-India Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, which India says is a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group. India blames Lashkar-e-Taiba for a 2008 attack on the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people.
Exchanges of fire are common along the tense and heavily guarded Line of Control in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India.
Fighting intensified on October 5, when violence erupted there during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
So far, this round of cross-border fire has killed 20 people and wounded more than 100 on both sides.
Thousands of villagers living in Kashmir and elsewhere in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province near the Indian-controlled Kashmir already have fled.
The clashes are the most serious violation of a 2003 cease-fire agreement.