ISLAMABAD (AFP) — At least 10 civilians were killed and more than 50 wounded Friday as India and Pakistan traded fire across their disputed border, officials said.
Six died near the city of Sialkot in Pakistan’s Punjab province, the country’s military said, while at least four villagers were killed in Indian-administered Kashmir, one more than the figure of three reported earlier.
The firing comes less than a week after planned high-level talks between the nuclear-armed rivals were aborted amid a row over Kashmir, the Himalayan territory both sides control in part but claim in full.
The two sides regularly fire shells and mortars across the disputed border both in Kashmir and to the south in Punjab, killing civilians.
A senior Pakistani security official told AFP that Indian forces began firing around 3 a.m. on Friday (2200 GMT Thursday) and continued intermittently during the morning.
“Six civilians embraced shahadat (martyrdom) and 46 were severely injured including 22 females due to Indian unprovoked firing/shelling on working boundary near Sialkot in Chaprar and Harpal sector,” a statement from the Pakistani military said, adding that they had returned fire.
In Indian-controlled Kashmir, Border Security Force (BSF) official Rakesh Kumar Sharma accused Pakistan of targeting civilians with “unprovoked” mortar fire.
“Four villagers died in the shelling from across the border, three of them were killed early morning and one died of injuries in a hospital later,” Pawan Kotwal, the top administrator of the region told AFP.
Another BSF officer, J.S.Oberio, put the number of injured at 16, saying at least 10 border posts and several villages were targeted by Pakistani troops.
Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region since both gained independence in 1947, and it remains a major source of tension.
About a dozen militant groups have been fighting since 1989 for either the independence of the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.