SRINAGAR, India (AP) - Pakistani soldiers early Sunday targeted an Indian border post and civilian areas along the highly militarized frontier in disputed Kashmir, leaving two army soldiers and a civilian dead, the Indian military said.
Indian soldiers “retaliated strongly” in Tangdhar sector along the Line of Control dividing the Himalayan region between the two nuclear-armed rivals, said Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman. He said three civilians were also injured in the Pakistani firing.
Kalia called it an “unprovoked” violation of a 2003 cease-fire accord between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan did not immediately comment.
Kalia claimed India’s retaliation caused “heavy damage and casualties to (the) enemy.”
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir, which both claim. The renewed fighting comes amid the ongoing lockdown in Kashmir after India stripped the region of its semi-autonomy in early August.
Since then, soldiers from the rival nations have regularly engaged in cross-border shelling and firing along their de-facto frontier in Kashmir, where rebel groups fight for the territory to be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. In the past, each side has accused the other of starting the hostilities in violation of the 2003 accord.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training anti-India rebels, and also helping them by providing gunfire as cover for incursions into the Indian side.
Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris who oppose Indian rule.
Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
On Aug. 5, India’s Hindu nationalist-led government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status and imposed a strict crackdown, sending in tens of thousands more additional troops to a region which is already one of the highest militarized zones in the world. India has arrested thousands of activists and separatist leaders in the days leading up to and after the revoking of Kashmir’s special status.
More than two months later, the region remains under a communications blockade. Authorities have restored landline services and some cellphones, but the internet remains suspended.