In­dia sum­mons Pak­istan en­voy over civil­ian deaths in Kash­mir

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

In­dia sum­moned Pak­istan's en­voy in New Delhi Sun­day to protest against the week­end killing of at least half a dozen civil­ians in bor­der fir­ings, hik­ing ten­sions ahead of talks be­tween the nu­clear-armed ri­vals.

Six civil­ians died on the week­end in trou­bled In­dian Kash­mir af­ter fir­ing and shelling by Pak­istani troops from across the bor­der, claimed In­dian po­lice. Another two civil­ians were killed in shelling by In­dian sol­diers into the Pak­istani side of the dis­puted Hi­malayan re­gion, ac­cord­ing to a Pak­istani of­fi­cial. "We are con­cerned about the ceasefire vi­o­la­tions in the months of July and Au­gust," Pak­istan High Com­mis­sioner Ab­dul Ba­sit told re­porters out­side the for­eign min­istry of­fice in Delhi where he had been hauled in. "There have been close to 70 ceasefire vi­o­la­tions from this side [In­dian] of the LoC (Line of Con­trol) and work­ing bound­ary," he said.

In­dia and Pak­istan of­ten ac­cuse each other of vi­o­lat­ing a 2003 ceasefire agree­ment along their de facto bor­der known as the Line of Con­trol that di­vides Kash­mir.

Fir­ing and shelling be­tween troops has oc­curred on an al­most daily ba­sis for the past week along the bor­der, af­ter an uptick in such in­ci­dents in re­cent months. Top se­cu­rity of­fi­cials of the two coun­tries are sched­uled to meet in the In­dian cap­i­tal from Au­gust 23 in what Pak­istan last week de­scribed as "ice break­ing" talks. Af­ter months of stale­mate and re­crim­i­na­tions, In­dia Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and his Pak­istani coun­ter­part Nawaz Sharif spoke for nearly an hour while vis­it­ing Rus­sia in July.

Kash­mir has been di­vided be­tween the two coun­tries since the end of Bri­tish rule but is claimed in full by both. The neig­bours have fought two wars over con­trol of the Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity ter­ri­tory.

Sev­eral rebel groups have for decades bat­tled In­dian forces de­ployed on the In­dian side, seek­ing ei­ther in­de­pen­dence or a merger of the ter­ri­tory with Pak­istan. The con­flict has left tens of thou­sands, mostly civil­ians, dead. In­dian and Pak­istani troops traded heavy gun­fire and mor­tar rounds for a sev­enth straight day Sun­day along the highly mil­i­tarised Line of Con­trol di­vid­ing the dis­puted Hi­malayan re­gion of Kash­mir be­tween the two archri­vals, of­fi­cials said.

In­dian army spokesman Lt. Col. Man­ish Me­hta said Pak­istani troops fired on In­dian po­si­tions in Balakote and Poonch sec­tors. In­dian po­lice of­fi­cer Dan­ish Rana said six civil­ians had died in the Pak­istani shelling over the last two days. At least 17 oth­ers were wounded. Pak­istan's army said in a state­ment that two civil­ians had been killed and two oth­ers wounded in the fight­ing.

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