At least two Pakistani civilians were killed as Indian troops fired bullets and mortar shells across a de facto border which runs through the disputed region of Kashmir, military officials said on Wednesday. “The clashes in the Himalayan valley, which have been divided between the two regional rivals since 1949, started from early morning and continued for several hours,’’ the Pakistani military said in a statement.
The military said it killed three Indian soldiers in retaliatory firing. Defence officials in Delhi told newsmen they had not received any information about troop casualties. The exchange occurred nearly two weeks after similar clashes at another point left no fewer than half a dozen Pakistani civilians dead in the most serious encounter in months. Tension between the South-Asian rivals has increased in recent weeks, with clashes at border taking place almost every day. “Almost 50 Pakistani civilians and soldiers have been killed by the Indian border troops this year,’’ the Foreign Ministry said. Casualties are regularly reported on the Indian side as well. On Tuesday, India accused the Pakistani army of killing one of its soldiers in the Poonch District. Earlier this month, India said a 10-year old boy and a teenage girl were killed and 10 more civilians were injured by cross-border firing. Pakistan and India have fought three wars since they gained independence from the British colonial rule in 1947. Two of them were over Kashmir, which both claimed in its entirety.