ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s army on Friday claimed it killed five Indian soldiers when it destroyed their post in the Himalayan region of Kashmir in retaliation against Indian sniper fire that struck a school van, killing the driver.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor and other officials said the Indian post near Tatta Pani village was “destroyed” late Thursday after sniper fire earlier in the day hit a school van carrying children in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir, killing the driver and traumatizing students.
Ghafoor vowed that Pakistan will always respond to “Indian terrorism against innocent citizens.”
The Indian army has denied Pakistan’s claim, saying there was no cease-fire violation from its side on Thursday.
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Pakistan says gunfire hit a Pakistani school van days after India said gunmen belonging to the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed were behind a weekend attack on an army camp in Indian-controlled Kashmir. In that Saturday attack, gunmen stormed the Sunjuwan army camp and fought Indian troops, leaving five Indian soldiers and one civilian dead.
It prompted India to warn Pakistan that it “would pay for this misadventure.”
Pakistan condemned the attack on the van and urged the world community to take notice.
Haleema Shaheen said she was in the van when bullets struck the vehicle, killing driver Sarfaraz Ahmed, but all the students escaped unhurt.
On Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned the targeting of a school van by India.
“Such unprovoked and unethical acts have exposed the real face of India, which continues to violate the Geneva Convention by targeting innocent school children,” he said.
Sardar Masood Khan, president of Pakistani Kashmir, denounced India’s “aggression.” He appealed to the United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan, or UNMOGIP, to investigate the incident.
Pakistan and India often trade fire in Kashmir, but it was one of the rare incidents in which school van came under attack. In 2016, the Indian artillery fire and shelling had struck a passenger bus in Kashmir, killing 12 civilians.
Thursday’s violence marked the latest escalation in Kashmir, which is divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbors and claimed by both in its entirety. Both sides accuse the other of initiating the firing along the volatile boundary.
Associated Press Writer Ashok Sharma contributed to this story from New Delhi, India.