ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani and Indian border guards traded artillery fire along the disputed border region of Kashmir, killing four people and wounding eight, officials said Saturday.
Both Pakistan and India blamed each other for starting the fire that began Friday night. This latest violence comes after Islamabad blamed Indian forces for killing two of its soldiers Wednesday in a crossfire that also killed an Indian soldier.
In a statement Saturday, the Pakistani military said that Indian forces violated the cease-fire agreement between the two countries with an unprovoked barrage of artillery Friday night near the city of Sialkot, killing a 13-year-old girl and wounding another child. It said Pakistani soldiers returned fire.
In India, police officer Rajesh Kumar said Pakistani shelling in the Kathua sector killed a woman and wounded seven villagers.
D. Parekh, a Border Security Force officer, said the firing continued Saturday in at least half a dozen places.
"One place goes quiet, the firing starts at another place," Parekh said. Indian officials blamed Pakistan for beginning the fire without provocation.
An Indian military official said Pakistani troops fired at also Indian positions in the Tangdhar sector, killing two Indian soldiers late Friday night. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to journalists.
Shantamanu, a top Indian official who uses one name, said authorities evacuated 800 people from several border villages to state-run relief camps Saturday because of the firing. Another 700 people also fled, he said.
Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan. The two countries have fought two wars over the Himalayan region since they won independence from Britain in 1947.
While minor skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani troops are common along the 200-kilometer (125-mile) border, the worst violation of the cease-fire accord took place in October over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and killed nine civilians in Pakistan and nine in India.
Hussain reported from Srinagar, India. Associated Press writer Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.