SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Two Indian soldiers were killed and another wounded in Pakistani firing in Kashmir, the Indian military said Saturday, as tensions continued to escalate along the volatile and highly militarized frontier between the archrivals in the disputed Himalayan region.
Pakistan’s military said a young woman was wounded when Indian soldiers fired rockets and mortars along the frontier on Friday. In the past, the countries have accused each other of starting border skirmishes in the divided region, which both claim in its entirety.
Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman, said Pakistani soldiers late Friday targeted forward posts in the western Uri area along the Line of Control dividing Kashmir between the two countries. He said the attack was a violation of the 2003 cease-fire accord.
Kalia said three soldiers were wounded, with two of them dying at a hospital. Indian soldiers “retaliated strongly,” he said, a phrase used after almost every such confrontation.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it summoned an Indian diplomat on Saturday to protest alleged cease-fire violations that wounded a young woman.
It said Indian forces “have continuously been targeting civilian populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars and automatic weapons.” It accused India of 940 cease fire violations this year.
According to Indian officials, Pakistan had violated the cease-fire over 800 times this year through the first week of March.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over their competing claims to Kashmir.
There has been almost daily fighting over last several months along the rugged and mountainous Line of Control, marked by coils of razor wire, watch towers and bunkers that snake across foothills populated by ancient villages, tangled bushes and forests. On Wednesday, a Pakistani soldier and three civilians on both sides of Kashmir were killed in border fighting.
The fighting has seen the use of heavy artillery targeting civilian areas this year, leading to the killing and wounding of civilians as well as soldiers on both sides.
India has continued its counterinsurgency operations across Kashmir despite a lockdown to combat the coronavirus. Militants fighting against Indian rule also have not ceased their attacks on government forces and alleged informants.
Rebel groups in Indian-held Kashmir demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training anti-India rebels. Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to the militants and to Kashmiris who oppose Indian rule.
Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.