Indian and Pakistani troops exchange fire leaving at least 14 dead

Reuters , Friday 13 Nov 2020

Local residents stand beside a burning house following cross border shelling between Pakistani and Indian forces in Tehjain village at the Line of Control (LoC) -- the de facto border between Pakistan and India -- in Neelum Valley of Pakistan-administered Kashmir on November 13, 2020 AFP

A t least 10 civilians and four security personnel were killed in cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan on Friday, in one of this year's deadliest days along the heavily militarised frontier separating the nuclear-armed rivals, officials said.

The barrage of mortars and other weapons along several parts of the Line of Control - the de-facto border - began after Indian troops foiled an infiltration attempt from Pakistan in northern Kashmir, officials in Srinagar and New Delhi said.

Pakistan's military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Indian officials said six civilians, three soldiers and a border guard were killed on their side. Officials on the Pakistani side said four civilians were killed there. Indian officials said they believed there were also casualties among Pakistani security forces.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full. Each rules part of the region, with New Delhi long accusing its neighbour of fueling an insurgency, which Pakistan denies.

Indian and Pakistani troops regularly exchange fire across the mountainous border, but the shelling on Friday was particularly intense, according to Indian officials. Both sides also accused the other of firing at civilian areas.

"As usual they targeted civilian populations without any remorse," said Syed Shahid Qadri, a government official in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, where a woman was among the dead and 27 others were injured.

Across the border in Indian Kashmir, officials said an 8-year-old child was among those killed in the shelling that started in the morning and continued late into the evening.

Mukhtar Ahmad, a resident of Uri in Indian Kashmir said there was panic in the hillside town after loud explosions were heard from areas closer to the de facto border.

"Several families have fled the area and taken shelter in Uri town," he said.

More than 40 civilians have been killed in firing between Indian and Pakistani troops this year, according to official data, with both sides suffering similar fatalities. 

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