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Iran Press TV

Three Kashmiri civilians dead as Indian, Pakistani troops exchange fire

Iran Press TV

Mon Oct 2, 2017 08:16AM

Indian and Pakistani forces have engaged in another cross-border firing, reportedly leaving three civilians dead on the opposite sides of the disputed border which divides the Himalayan Kashmir region.

Indian police said in a statement that Pakistani fire killed a 10-year-old boy and a teenage girl in the Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday morning. Five civilians also sustained injuries during the exchange of fire, they added.

Military spokesman Col Nitin Joshi said Pakistani soldiers targeted several posts with "unprovoked" automatic gunfire and mortar shells.

Pakistani media also reported the incident, saying Indian forces had shelled border villages across the border, known as the Line of Control, in Azad Jammu and Kashmir's Haveli district.

The Pakistani Dawn News quoted Chaudhry Kashif Hussain, Haveli's deputy commissioner, as saying that New Delhi's forces "resorted to shelling at about 6 a.m. (local time) in Nezapir and Digwar sectors, using both small and heavy arms."

He described the fight as "intermittent but fierce," according to the daily's website.

Hussain added that shelling had left a 70-year-old man identified as Muhammad Deen dead in the village of Digwar. Five other people were also wounded in the incident, he added.

The official said soon after the beginning of shelling, he had ordered the closure of all education institutions in vulnerable areas to avert any casualties of students and teachers.

"Since there is no let up in shelling, exact details of losses cannot be ascertained immediately," Hussain said.

Residents said panic had gripped the areas along the LoC due to intense shelling from across the border.

There has been a new hike in border tensions between Pakistan and India in recent days.

Islamabad said over the weekend that two civilians and a soldier were killed as Indian forces fired on Pakistani positions Friday.

The disputed Kashmir region is divided between Pakistan and India, but claimed by both in its entirety. The two nuclear neighbors have fought three wars over control of the Himalaya region since their partition in 1947.

New Delhi regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training militants and allowing them across the restive frontier in an attempt to launch attacks on Indian forces. Pakistan, however, strongly denies the allegation and accuses India of committing "war crimes" in Kashmir and "exporting terror" to Pakistan.

People in the Muslim-majority Kashmir have for years demanded independence or a merger with Pakistan. India has ignored the call and continues to police the region with a 500,000-strong military force. About 70,000 people have been killed in India's crackdown in Kashmir since 1989.

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