ISLAMABAD (AP) — Top Pakistan and Indian military officials spoke Tuesday about recent clashes along the border with the Himalayan region of Kashmir, hoping to end violence that killed 20 people in the past week, two Pakistani army officials said.
The director of the Pakistan army's military operations spoke with his Indian counterpart in a hotline call to convey his concern over Indian border guards' "consistent unprovoked firing on (the) civil population," an official said.
A second official said there was a pause Tuesday in the clashes between the two countries. The Pakistani military said in a statement that a group of U.N. peacekeepers on Monday and Tuesday visited villages near the city of Sialkot in the Pakistani portion of Kashmir that had been affected by the gunfire.
The two Pakistani officials declined to share India's response about the violence that started Oct. 5 in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India and which both sides claim in its entirety. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to journalists.
Although minor skirmishes in Kashmir are common, the latest clashes marked the most serious violation of a 2003 ceasefire accord between India and Pakistan. The violence forced thousands of villagers to flee at a time when people in the two countries were celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Both Pakistan and India blame the other for starting the clashes, which broke out after New Delhi abruptly canceled talks with Pakistan after its ambassador met with Kashmiri separatist leaders. The mostly Muslim region has seen fighting off and on for decades. Pakistan and India have fought two wars over the mountainous territory.
The Pakistani army statement said that since Oct. 1, India has been responsible for 50 ceasefire violations on the working boundary and along the U.N.-monitored Line of Control that slices through the mountainous region.
Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for India's External Affairs Ministry, said India will not accept violence on the border or the Line of Control
"We feel that Pakistan must take immediate steps to restore peace and tranquility along the international border and the LOC in Jammu and Kashmir and end its sponsorship of terrorism against us," Akbaruddin told reporters.
He said Indian security forces will continue to respond "appropriately" to any attempts by Pakistan to undermine calm along the international boundary and the Line of Control.
Associated Press reporter Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.