Three Indian soldiers killed in Kashmir border firing

SRINAGAR : Three Indian soldiers were killed in Kashmir along the unofficial border with Pakistan Saturday, Indian police said, in the latest skirmish between the bitter rivals in the disputed Himalayan territory.

The soldiers were killed in the Rajouri sector of Indian-administered Kashmir after Pakistani troops started firing across the border, said Shesh Paul Vaid, the director general of police in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. “Initial reports say three soldiers were killed during (a) BAT operation,” Vaid told AFP, referring to the “Border Action Teams” that Indian officials say are made up of Pakistani troops and militants and carry out cross-border attacks. Vaid added that an officer was among the dead, and another soldier was injured.

There was no immediate response from Pakistani authorities to the incident.

New Delhi and Islamabad regularly accuse each other of firing across the heavily-militarised de facto border in Kashmir, called the Line of Control.

Kashmir has been divided between the Pakistan and India since the end of British colonial rule over the subcontinent in 1947. Both sides claim the territory in full.

Firing across the Line of Control has killed and wounded dozens of soldiers and civilians on both sides in recent years.

Indian officials accuse Pakistan of conducting such operations to help Kashmiri separatists to sneak across the border to carry out attacks on Indian forces. Pakistan denies the allegations, saying it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.

Separatist rebels in Indian-administered Kashmir have been fighting for independence since 1989, with roughly half a million Indian soldiers deployed in the region. The rebels want either complete independence for Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.

This year has been the bloodiest in a decade for Kashmir, after the Indian military launched a large-scale operation and killed at least 210 Kashmiris, most of them local residents.

The violence was sparked by the killing of a popular young rebel leader by government forces in July last year. The unrest, including the cross-border firing, also killed 78 Indian security forces and 57 civilians in Indian-administered Kashmir, according to officials and rights groups.


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