India, Pakistan soldiers exchange fire across frontier, no casualties

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ISLAMABAD/SRINAGAR, India: India and Pakistan exchanged fire across their de facto border in the Kashmir region on Saturday, in minor skirmishes that come at a time of heightened tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Army officers from both countries blamed each other for starting the firing, which took place in the morning along the so-called “Line of Control” dividing them in the disputed Himalayan region. No casualties were reported.

The exchange came two days after New Delhi said Indian troops had crossed into Pakistan’s side of Kashmir and killed suspected militants in a “surgical strike”, an operation Pakistan says never took place.

That was in response to an attack last month on an army base in India-controlled Kashmir that killed 19 soldiers and which New Delhi blamed on militants who crossed from Pakistan. Islamabad denied any involvement.

“Pakistani troops today violated (the) ceasefire along Pallanwala sector of Akhnoor area of Jammu,” a senior Indian army officer said on Saturday.

“They targeted five of our posts (with) small arms and we also responded and fired back. However, there was no damage.”

An official from the Pakistani army said its troops had “befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing.”

The two countries have fought two of their three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 over Kashmir. Both claim the former princely state in full.

(Reporting by Drazen Jorgic in ISLAMABAD and Fayaz Bukhari in SRINAGAR; Writing by Rafael Nam; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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