SRINAGAR, India – India accused Pakistani troops of firing guns and mortars on at least 50 Indian border posts overnight in disputed Kashmir, calling it the most serious cease-fire violation between the nuclear-armed neighbors in a decade.
The attacks began Tuesday night in southern Kashmir after India’s home minister visited the region to review security, Border Security Force spokesman Vinod Yadav said. Indian troops returned fire, but one guard was killed and six were injured by a shell fired at the Arnia post in the Jammu region, he said.
At least 100 civilians were being moved from homes in the villages of Arnia and Ramgarh near the frontier, local Indian police officer Rajesh Kumar said.
While nearly 200 smaller violations of the 2003 cease-fire agreement have been reported this year, Yadav called the latest skirmishes the most serious in a decade. In most cases, India or Pakistan accuses the other of initiating the fighting.
Both sides, however, have acknowledged an increase in the number of cross-border attacks since the Pakistani and Indian prime ministers met for their first face-to-face meeting last month in New York and agreed on the need to reduce tensions.
Pakistani military officials have said that, over the last week, “unprovoked firing” by Indian forces has killed a Pakistani soldier and a civilian. Ten other civilians were wounded, the Pakistani officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with military policy.
Most recently, the Pakistani officials said Indian forces shelled Dhamala village near Sialkot on Tuesday. Pakistani soldiers returned fire, and no casualties were reported.
India and Pakistan fought wars in 1947 and 1965 over their rival claims to the Himalayan territory, and have regularly sparred over the heavily militarized Line of Control that divides the territory between them. Serious fighting also erupted in 1999, when the Pakistani army and Pakistan-backed rebels occupied mountaintops on the Indian side in the eastern Kargil region of Kashmir.
On Monday, the top elected official on the Indian side, Omar Abdullah, said New Delhi should “look at other options” if Pakistan continues to violate the cease-fire.
He did not elaborate, but local politicians who want to separate from India’s administration said Abdullah’s comment’s amounted to “war mongering” against Pakistan.
India’s Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was in the Jammu region of Indian Kashmir on Tuesday to meet with troops and security officials after reported skirmishes last week.
Associated Press writer Sebastian Abbot contributed to this report from Islamabad.