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Civilians, soldiers killed in Kashmir cross-border firing

Heavy cross-border exchange of fire between India and Pakistan across the disputed Kashmir region has resulted in multiple casualties.

There were contrasting reports from both sides on the number of casualties in the latest skirmish on Sunday that left soldiers and civilians dead on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC), the heavily militarized de facto border dividing Kashmir between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

An Indian army spokesman said two Indian soldiers and a civilian were killed in “unprovoked” fire by Pakistan in the Tangdhar region of the Kupwara district.

Several homes were damaged in the attack and three civilians were being treated in a hospital, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.

Pakistan’s army, meanwhile, claimed that India’s attacks in Jura, Shahkot and Nowshera sectors was “unprovoked” and deliberately targeted civilians.

Nine Indian soldiers were killed, several others injured and two bunkers were destroyed in response to the attacks, Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Twitter.

During the exchange of fire, one Pakistani soldier and five civilians were killed, and seven people wounded, he said. 

“Indian guns silent as of now to undertake evacuation of their dead and injured after effective and befitting response from the Pakistan army,” Ghafoor said.

Both sides accused each other of violating a 2003 ceasefire accord. 

Border clashes

Sunday’s clashes came days after Pakistan’s foreign ministry protested against similar incidents from across the LoC by Indian forces that killed three civilians and wounded another eight on October 15.

Deadly border clashes have spiked over the past few weeks which have seen Indian and Pakistani forces target frontier posts as well as villages, leading to casualties among soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Tensions between the neighbours have remained high since India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy on August 5 and imposed movement and communications restrictions to quell unrest.

Islamabad has warned that changing Kashmir’s status would escalate tensions but India said the withdrawal of the special status is an internal affair and is aimed at faster economic development of the territory.

Pakistan and India both control parts of Kashmir, but each lays claim to the entire region since the countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the region.

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