MIRPUR/Islamabad - Pakistani troops yesterday retaliated to Indian firing at civilian areas in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, destroying a number of enemy bunkers and killing five Indian soldiers.

India denied the claims and alleged Pakistani troops of igniting exchange of fire at the de facto border, LoC.

The two nuclear neighbours accuse each other of repeatedly violating a 2003 ceasefire. On the diplomatic front, relations have worsened following the arrest of an Indian spy in Pakistan and tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats last year.

Civil authorities in AJK said the Indians again violated the ceasefire on Saturday and resorted to heaving shelling at civilian population in various forward villages in Tattapani and Nikayal sectors in Kotli district.

“Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing targeting the forward villages of Goiee, Sehra, Janjora and Dalairi villages in Tattapani sector as well as at Jandrote and adjoining villages in Nikayal Sector”, police officials of these areas told The Nation over phone. They however said that no loss of life had been reported from the affected areas.

A press release from army’s media wing, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), said Saturday that Indian unprovoked CFV (ceasefire violation) at Tatta Pani was “violently responded”. A number of “Indian bunkers [were] destroyed, five Indian soldiers were killed and many injured,” it said.

India had resorted to unprovoked firing on Friday too, wounding two civilians in Nezapir sector.

Indian authorities however refuted the Pakistani claims of ceasefire violation and alleged that fire was started from other side instead. It also denied any deaths or injuries to its soldiers.

Indian media reported Indian defence spokesman as saying, “A woman was injured as Pakistani troops violated ceasefire twice in two sectors of Poonch district by firing mortar shells on forward posts and civilian areas along the Line of Control, [forcing Indian] army to retaliate.”

Pakistani troops also fired indiscriminately with small arms and mortars along the LoC in Krishana Ghati sector, the spokesman said.

Tension over the Himalayan region has run high between the two nuclear-armed neighbours since a Pakistani military court sentenced an Indian accused of espionage to death.

Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, in Balochistan province, where he was running a network of terror in collaboration with Baloch insurgents. India has managed to get a stay on Jadhav execution by approaching the World Court, but the matter remains a running sour for bilateral relations.

 ANTI-TERROR AGENCY RAIDS HOMES OF APHC LEADERS

India’s anti-terrorism agency Saturday searched the homes of top Kashmiri leaders in Held Kashmir as part of an investigation of their finances and alleged anti-government activities.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is probing if the APHC leaders received funds illegally from Pakistan-based extremists to carry out “subversive activities” including stone-pelting and arson.

In an early morning crackdown in Srinagar, NIA sleuths targeted several leaders and businessmen, as well as the son-in-law of hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, police sources confirmed to AFP.

Eight locations in the capital Delhi were also raided.

The NIA last month launched a preliminary enquiry into the sources of funding of Geelani, Naeem Khan and Farooq Ahmed Dar.

The agency is investigating if the leaders received funds from Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, a firebrand cleric who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) group, and other Pakistan-based militant outfits.

Indian-occupied Kashmir has been tense since April 9, when eight people were killed by police and paramilitary forces during election day violence.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the valley, where most people favour independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Separately on Saturday, two soldiers were killed after militants attacked an army convoy near Lower Munda on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

“Six soldiers were injured and two of them died later,” an army officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.