A Pakistani soldier has been killed by Indian troops near the dividing line in the disputed territory of Kashmir, Pakistan’s military says. The soldier was killed by Indian gunfire across the Line of Control (LoC), which divides the disputed region, it says. It is the third such incident in five days, following the deaths of two Indian soldiers earlier this week.
Claimed by both countries, Kashmir has been a flashpoint for over 60 years.
The Pakistani army said the “unprovoked” attack took place as the soldier was manning a post in the Battal sector of Kashmir. The Indian army said in a statement that a group of regular Pakistani soldiers crossed the LoC, “having taken advantage of thick fog and mist in the forested area”.
The Pakistani foreign ministry says India’s allegations are “baseless” and that it is willing to have a UN investigation.
The dead Indian soldiers have been named as Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh. Indian authorities claim the bodies of one of the men had been mutilated but Pakistani military officials denied what they described as an “Indian allegation of unprovoked firing”. Pakistan has alleged that Indian soldiers crossed the LoC at the time of Sunday’s incident, a charge denied by the Indian army.
The Kashmir dispute
Pakistan and India have claimed sovereignty over the region since independence from British rule in 1947. Two years later a ceasefire line was agreed that in practice resulted in separate Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered areas of Kashmir. Thousands of people were killed in Indian-administered Kashmir after an armed revolt against Indian rule erupted in 1989.
There has been a ceasefire in Kashmir since late 2003 and while exchanges of gunfire in the disputed area are not uncommon, they have rarely result in fatalities. India suspended that peace process with Pakistan following attacks by Pakistan-based militants in Mumbai in 2008, although negotiations resumed in February last year.
Last month, the two nuclear-armed nations signed an agreement to ease visa restrictions on travel for certain citizens.