India accuses Pakistan over Kashmir exchange

Indian soldiers stand guard in Srinagar.
India says Pakistani troops in Kashmir fired "indiscriminately" at Indian positions Friday night.

Indian officials describe the incident on Saturday as the first major violation this year of the more than five-year cease-fire along the Line of Control, the border between both countries in the disputed territory of Kashmir. “Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked firing on our positions in the Uri sector of the Line of Control for four hours last night, causing injury to a trooper. “They fired indiscriminately, using small and automatic weapons at our positions in the Uri sector. Our troops had to respond to the unprovoked firing from the Pakistani positions,” Lt. Col. J.S. Brar, Indian defense spokesman, told CNN. A Pakistani response was not immediately available.

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Indian defense sources in Kashmir said the firing was “apparently intended to give a cover” to militants infiltrating the Line of Control. India has been accusing neighboring, nuclear-armed Pakistan of “arming and abetting” the infiltrators, a charge denied by Pakistan. The two countries have gone to war over Kashmir twice, and came close to another war during the Kargil crisis in 1999. Relations between the two south Asian nations have seen a thaw and a positive journey after a bilateral cease-fire on the Line of Control in November 2003. But relations suddenly slumped in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror strikes in November. Analysts think the exchange of fire between the two armies may lead to further tensions between the two countries. Over more than five years, several Kashmir-related confidence building measures were put in place, including a bus service that crosses the Line of Control, and trade initiatives that didn’t take off as intended. Also Saturday, the defense spokesman said four militants were killed by the Indian army in two separate encounters in north Kashmir. Kashmir has been in the throes of a violent separatist campaign for nearly 20 years. Authorities say 43,000 people have been killed, but nongovernmental organizations and human rights groups put the number of dead at twice the official count.