India, Pakistan trade barbs over deadly Kashmir clash

Vastavam web: India and Pakistan blamed one another for cross-border shelling in the disputed Kashmir region which killed and injured soldiers and civilians on both sides and made it one of the deadliest days since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special status in August. India said there was heavy shelling by Pakistan across the border in northern Kashmir’s Tangdhar region late on Saturday night, killing two Indian soldiers and one civilian.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Armed Forces said one of its soldiers and three civilians had died and that India had violated the ceasefire. Tensions between the two countries have flared and there has been intermittent cross-border firing since Aug. 5, when New Delhi flooded Indian Kashmir with troops to quell unrest after it revoked the region’s special autonomous status.

Islamabad has warned that changing Kashmir’s status would escalate tensions but India says the withdrawal of special status is an internal affair and is aimed at faster economic development of the territory. An Indian army source said the shelling was cover to help militants enter India because of which a “calibrated escalation of area weapons was undertaken”. The Indian army “retains the right to respond at a time and place of its choosing” if the Pakistani army continues to do this, he said.

Islamabad has summoned the Indian envoy in protest over the shelling and killings, and offered to have diplomats from the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members, including the United States and Russia, visit the border and see that no militant camps exist there. Major General Asif Ghafoor, a spokesman for the Pakistani Armed Forces, said Pakistan responded “effectively”, killing nine Indian soldiers, injuring several others and destroying two bunkers.