2 Civilians Die in Indo-Pak Border Shootout in Kashmir

Amin Masoodi
Srinagar, India
170511-IN-kashmir-620.jpg An Indian paramilitary trooper aims a slingshot toward Kashmiri protesters during street clashes in Srinagar, May 11, 2017.

India and Pakistan each claimed a civilian death and accused one another of “unprovoked aggression” amid heightened tensions after their armies exchanged fire Thursday along a de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region.

The cross-border firing along the Line of Control (LoC), the boundary that divides the Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of the region, occurred in the Rajouri district of Indian Kashmir, officials said.

“The Pakistani army fired 82 mm and 120 mm mortars from 10:40 p.m. [Wednesday] along the LoC. Indiscriminate shelling caused [the] death of [a] woman,” Indian Army spokesman Lt. Col. Manish Mehta told BenarNews.

Indian police identified the dead woman as Akther Bibi, 42.

Her husband, Mohammad Hanief, was injured in the firing, police said, refuting reports that two Indian civilians were killed in the shootout.

“Hanief is recovering in the hospital and is out of danger now,” Police Superintendent Jugal Manhas told BenarNews.

Pakistan, meanwhile, accused the Indian Army of violating a ceasefire, saying Thursday’s firing resulted in the death of one of its civilians, who was identified as M. Rizwan.

Two other civilians – Wilayat Bibi and Abdul Aziz – were also injured in the “unprovoked firing in Subzkot, Khuiratta, Tandar, Baroh, Bagsar and Khanjar sectors,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Kataria said.

“We condemn Indian acts of deliberate targeting of civilians,” Katari said on Twitter.

The two sides routinely accuse each other of cross-border infiltrations and ceasefire violations along the LoC.

The fresh border violence came amid growing bilateral tensions after India alleged that Pakistani troops crossed the de facto border and killed and mutilated two of its soldiers in early May, a charge that Islamabad denies.

On May 3, India summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to lodge a protest over the soldiers’ killings.

In response to Thursday’s deadly incident along the Line of Control, Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned J.P. Singh, India’s deputy high commissioner in Islamabad, to condemn the alleged violation of the ceasefire.

“Indian forces resorted to unprovoked firing in Subzkot, Khuiratta, Tandar,  Baroh, Bagsar and Khanjar sectors during the intervening night of May 10 and 11,” the foreign office said in a statement, according to Indian news service IANS.

“The deliberate targeting of civilians is condemnable and in violation of international human rights and laws. A civilian was killed and two others injured in fresh firing,” Pakistani officials added.

Kashmir, which is claimed in its entirety by India and Pakistan, has been grappling with a separatist insurgency that has claimed over 70,000 lives since the late 1980s.

India and Pakistan have fought three full-blown wars – two of them over the ownership of the Himalayan region of Kashmir – since the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947.


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