Seven dead in India, Pakistan amid renewed Kashmir tensions
Tensions between Pakistan and India over the dispute region of Kashmir on Monday flared once again after forces traded fire, leaving seven people dead - some of the highest fatalities since hostilities between the rival powers renewed in February.
Three Pakistani soldiers, a Pakistani villager, an Indian woman and a girl, and a member of the Indian paramilitary troops were killed in the exchange of fire, officials said.
The fatalities are among the highest since a suicide bombing killed 40 Indian soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir in February.
Indian troops targeted Pakistani military positions overnight in the border town of Rakhchakri in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir, killing three soldiers and wounding another, the Pakistani military said. It added that Pakistani soldiers "responded effectively", AP reported.
Indian fire also killed a 70-year-old Pakistani villager in a remote area of Niaza Per on Monday evening, according to Pakistani police official Waheed Qureshi.
The Indian army accused Pakistani troops of firing mortars and small-arms fire on Monday along the highly militarised, disputed frontier, hitting the area of Poonch in Indian-controlled Kashmir. It said Indian soldiers retaliated.
An Indian paramilitary officer, a woman and a girl were killed while at least 18 civilians and five troops were wounded, Indian police officer M.K. Sinha said.
The cross border firing resumed on Tuesday morning after a brief pause, he added.
Days after the 14 February suicide attack in Kashmir, India launched an airstrike inside Pakistan, claiming to have targeted militants from the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed extremist group who had claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Islamabad later claimed no Pakistani had been linked to the attack and that the militant group had no training camps inside Pakistan.
Pakistan then retaliated, saying it shot down two Indian air force planes. One Indian pilot was captured and later released amid signs of easing tensions.
Washington, Moscow, Beijing and Riyadh helped avoid all-out fighting, Pakistan said, but tensions remain along in the contested border region.
Jaish-e Mohammed was founded by Pakistani militant Masood Azhar after his release from prison in India in 1999 in exchange for 155 hostages held on an Indian Airlines flight hijacked in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Azhar is believed to be seriously ill, living at an undisclosed location.