Pakistani soldiers fired bullets at an Indian military position from across the heavily fortified frontier in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Tuesday, two days after suspected rebels killed 18 Indian soldiers in an audacious attack on a military base, the Indian army said.Indian army spokesman Col. Rajesh Kalia called it a violation of the 2003 cease-fire accord between India and Pakistan.There was no immediate comment from Pakistan. In the past, both sides have often accused the other of firing first.
Kalia said soldiers were also battling a group of militants that infiltrated into the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir from the Pakistani-held portion.He said a fierce exchange of gunfire was continuing. There were no immediate reports of casualties.Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by a heavily militarized and mountainous frontier called the Line of Control.The two nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars, including two over their competing claims to the Himalayan territory, though the 2003 cease-fire has largely held despite small but regular skirmishes.They use separate paramilitary forces to guard their lower-altitude frontier, defined by coils of razor wire that snake across foothills marked by ancient villages, tangled bushes and fields of rice and corn.The reported cease-fire incident and the ongoing gunbattle Tuesday were in the Uri region, where four suspected rebels entered a crucial Indian military base early Sunday and killed 18 soldiers. The four militants were also killed.The attack heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, with New Delhi blaming Islamabad-backed militants for the deadly strike, an allegation Pakistan strongly denied.The renewed hostility between the neighboring countries comes amid the largest protests against Indian rule in Kashmir in recent years, sparked by the July 8 killing of a popular rebel commander by Indian soldiers.The protests, and a sweeping military crackdown, have all but paralyzed life in Indian-controlled Kashmir. More than 80 people have been killed in the protests.