India Says Troops Killed In Kashmir Skirmish

Army spokesman says two Indian soldiers are fired upon by Pakistani troops in Indian-administrated Kashmir.

Two Indian soldiers have been killed after Pakistani troops crossed the ceasefire line in the Himalayan region of Kashmir and attacked an army patrol, Indian army officials say.

The incident was “a significant escalation … of ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts supported by the Pakistan
Army,” said Rajesh K Kalia, spokesman for the Indian army’s Northern Command.

Salman Khurshid, India’s foreign minister, has said India would deliver a “proportionate response” to the “ghastly” killings in Kashmir which he said were designed to sabotage an already fragile peace process.

In Islamabad, the Pakistan military denied what it called an “Indian allegation of unprovoked firing”.

“This is Indian propaganda to divert attention from an Indian raid on Sunday on a Pakistani post in which a Pakistani soldier was killed,” it said in a statement.

Kalaia said the incident happened in Mendhar sector in Indian-administrated Kashmir.

“Pakistan army troops, having taken advantage of thick fog and mist in the forested area, were moving towards own posts when an alert area domination patrol spotted and engaged the intruders,” Kalaia said in a statement.

“The fire fight between Pakistan and own troops continued for approximately half an hour after which the intruders retreated back towards their side of Line of Control.”

He said the body of one of the slain soldiers was found “badly mutilated”.

‘Possible infiltration’

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said neither side would want to escalate the situation along the border.

“It’s quite possible that it’s Kashmiri fighters who may have engaged, who may have been trying to infiltrate along this long, mountainous border. It happens from time to time.”
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The deaths came after Pakistan said on Sunday that one of its soldiers was killed by Indian shooting, with each side blaming the other for the flare-up.

Firing and small skirmishes between the two countries are common along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the contested Himalayan region of Kashmir between India and Pakistan, despite slowly improving ties in recent years. The Indian army says eight of its soldiers were killed in 2012, in 75 incidents.

In recent efforts to improve relations, trade and more lenient visa rules have been a feature of talks between senior political leaders from both sides.

Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, in New Delhi, said that despite signs of improving relations, the Indians they have remained cautious of the Pakistanis. She said it was not clear what action India would take in response to the killing of the soldiers.

“According to the army, it’s going through official channels at the moment,” she said. “Many are saying that any type of retaliatory action would be hugely unadvised.”

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in full. It was the cause of two of three wars between the neighbours since independence from Britain in 1947.

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