Indian soldiers killed in cross border firing
SRINAGAR: The Indian army said two of its soldiers were killed yesterday in the latest exchange of cross border firing with Pakistan along the de facto border in Kashmir, amid heightened tensions between the countries. One soldier was killed in a firefight as Indian troops pushed back against Pakistani “infiltrators” while another died in a separate incident, according to Army spokesman Colonel NN Joshi and a further statement from the military.
Tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals have soared since September when militants attacked an Indian army base in Kashmir leaving 19 soldiers dead. Since then the two sides have exchanged heavy fire almost daily leading to deaths of soldiers and civilians on both sides of the border. India blamed the September attack on Pakistan-based militants and responded with “surgical strikes” on what New Delhi described as terrorist launching pads across the dividing line.
Pakistan denied the strikes took place and the two sides have since expelled diplomats from their countries. The exchanges come against the backdrop of months of protests against Indian rule of Kashmir, sparked by the killing of a popular rebel leader in a firefight with Indian forces in July. The unrest and clashes have left more than 90 civilians dead in government forces’ action to quell the protests.
More than 12000 were injured, according to hospital authorities and around 7000 suspected protesters have been arrested during a continuing security crackdown to quell the anti-India protests. Last week authorities on both sides closed hundreds of schools along frontier areas in the south of the territory when cross-border firing killed 14 residents. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the disputed Himalayan territory in full. India regularly accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels to launch attacks on its forces in the portion of Kashmir it controls. Islamabad denies the allegations saying it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle for right of self-determination.
ISLAMABAD: A boy chants slogans next to his father during a demonstration called by a civil society group ‘Peace and Culture Organization’ to mark Jammu Martyrs Day.