10 killed in fresh firing across Kashmir border
At least ten people were killed Sunday in firing along the de facto India-Pakistan border in Kashmir, officials said, as both countries accused each other of trying to destabilise the disputed region.
Tensions escalated between the nuclear-armed neighbours after India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy on August 5 and imposed movement and communications restrictions to quell unrest.
Officials from the two countries accused each other’s militaries of firing across the so-called Line of Control.
India’s army chief General Bipin Rawat told reporters in New Delhi infiltration across the border has occurred repeatedly since August 5.
Two soldiers and a civilian were killed and three others injured in “unprovoked fire by Pakistan” in the mountainous Kupwara district, a spokesman for the army told AFP earlier Sunday.
Several homes were damaged in the attack and three civilians were being treated in a hospital, he added.
Rawat said his troops used larger-round artillery fire to hit “terrorist camps” across the border.
But Islamabad accused the Indian army of targeting civilians, with the foreign affairs ministry saying six were killed, while several others including women and children were seriously hurt in areas near the Line of Control.
The military added that one soldier also died, taking the toll in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to seven.
The shelling came ahead of two key Indian state polls on Monday, where nearly 100 million people can cast their votes in northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party is aiming to win a second term in the states, and one of the BJP’s main campaign platforms has been the stripping of Muslim-majority Kashmir’s autonomy.
There has been a jump in deaths in recent days with five people killed in Indian Kashmir on Wednesday, two days after New Delhi restored mobile phone and text services.
Indian authorities said repeatedly during the lockdown that Kashmir has been mostly peaceful.
Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since 1947 and was the spark of two wars and numerous skirmishes.
An armed rebellion against Indian rule has raged in the valley since 1989, claiming tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians.