SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian and Pakistani troops traded fire in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Saturday, killing two civilians and wounding six others, officials said.
Indian army spokesman Lt. Col. Manish Mehta said Pakistani soldiers started shelling and firing at Indian military posts in the morning in the Nowshera sector along the highly militarized Line of Control that divides the region between India and Pakistan. He said that Indian troops returned fire and that the gunbattle was still ongoing Saturday afternoon.
Pakistan's army denied that it initiated the clash and instead blamed Indian soldiers for firing and shelling in at least seven sectors in violation of a 2003 cease-fire. It said three Pakistani civilians were wounded in the violence.
The nuclear-armed archrivals routinely accuse each other of initiating border clashes.
Shahid Iqbal, the civilian administrator in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, said two civilians on the Indian side were killed — a 13-year-old girl and a 51-year-old man — and three others were wounded.
Iqbal said that more than 1,500 people in about 15 villages were still trapped in their homes, which were in the direct line of fire.
Earlier this month, India accused Pakistani soldiers of killing two Indian soldiers and mutilating their bodies, an allegation Islamabad denied.
Last year, Indian and Pakistani soldiers engaged in some of the worst fighting along the Line of Control since the two nations agreed to the cease-fire accord.
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir, a territory claimed by both. They have fought two of their three wars over the region since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.