Kashmiri men and boys shout slogans as they attend a protest in Srinagar. Reuters
Pakistani and Indian troops traded fire in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Wednesday, killing four civilians and wounding nearly a dozen others, officials from both sides said, as tensions remain high between the two South Asian countries.
Kashmir is split between Pakistan and India and claimed by both countries in its entirety. They have fought two wars over the province.
India sparked a new round of tensions in August, when it downgraded the autonomy of its side of Kashmir and imposed tighter controls on the area.
On Wednesday, Pakistan's foreign ministry said it summoned an Indian diplomat to lodge its protest over the previous day's "ceasefire violations" that killed three civilians, including two children on the Pakistani side of the contested Kashmir border.
In neighboring India, Lt. Col. Devender Anand, an army spokesman, said Pakistan fired at two dozen Indian army posts along the highly militarized Poonch sector Monday and Tuesday. He said Pakistani troops used mortar and machine-guns and targeted several villages as well.
Anand blamed Pakistan for initiating the fire and said their troops "befittingly" responded to what he called a series of unprovoked cease-fire violations. Earlier, an Indian civil administrator, Rahul Yadav, said that a young woman and several cattle were killed due to Pakistani firing in the Poonch sector Tuesday.
Also Wednesday, Indian police officer Parvaiz Ahmed said Indian security forces killed three militants in an exchange of gunfire in southern Kashmir, following intelligence that a group of militants was hiding in the town Bijbehara town.
Indian-administered Kashmir has experienced unrest and sporadic anti-government protests since New Delhi revoked its special status.Associated Press
Pakistan's army later said that "unprovoked cease-fire violations" by Indian troops killed five civilians and one soldier and wounded another three civilians and two troops across the highly militarized Line of Control that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India.
Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan each administer part of Kashmir, but both claim the Himalayan territory in its entirety. Rebel groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir’s independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan.
“We have reliable intelligence that between April 16 and 20, India may carry out an attack against Pakistan,” disclosed the foreign minister at a news conference on Sunday.
More than 820 people were injured and about 15,000 people have been evacuated, the agency said. Some have sought refuge in the mountains, while others went to cramped evacuation centres, witnesses said.
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