Indian and Pakistani border guards traded gunfire in the divided region of Kashmir, leaving nine civilians dead and another 63 wounded, authorities said Friday.
Both sides blamed each other for “unprovoked firing and shelling” on villages near disputed border in the Kashmir region that struck homes after midnight.A statement issued by the Pakistani army said six civilians were killed and 46 others, including 22 women, were wounded after Indian attacks near the city of Sialkot. It said the villages of Kanganpur and Bajra Gari were the worst hit by the shelling overnight.
Villages near Sialkot, an industrial city close to the working boundary across the disputed region of Kashmir, often come under Indian firing and mortar shelling.
Dharmendra Parikh, a top Indian Border Security Force official, said three Indian civilians were killed and one wounded after about a dozen border guard posts and some villages came under fire starting about midnight. Simrandeep Singh, an Indian administrator, said earlier that the attacks had also wounded 16 people.
Singh said the firing targeted border posts and some villages in R.S. Pura and Arnia sectors about 25 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of Jammu, the winter capital of India’s Jammu-Kashmir state.
Tension has mounted between the two countries after talks between the national security advisers of the two counties were called off because of disagreements related largely to Kashmir.
A cease-fire on the border has largely held between the countries since 2003, but gunbattles and border skirmishes are fairly common.
Earlier this month, at least nine civilians were killed and scores injured. The Kashmir region is divided between the South Asian nations but claimed entirely by both.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies.
More than 68,000 people have been killed in the violence.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir.- AP/UNB