Munir Ahmed | Associated Press
ISLAMABAD — Pakistani and Indian border guards traded gunfire and mortar shells Tuesday along their disputed border in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, killing two Pakistanis and an Indian, officials said.
At least 14 civilians also were wounded by Indian fire in the Bajwat sector near Sialkot, a city in the eastern Punjab province, Pakistan’s military said in a statement.
It said Pakistani troops responded to the “unprovoked” Indian fire and that the exchange of fire continued into Tuesday afternoon.
Indian Inspector-General Danish Rana blamed Pakistan for firing first, saying an Indian villager was killed when Pakistani troops shot at a dozen Indian border posts in the Jammu region.
An official with India’s border security force said the Pakistani fire also wounded four civilians. He said the Pakistani troops opened fire first and the Indian troops “retaliated.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists.
As the two sides continued trading fire, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a protest with India over the violence. Pakistani army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, also warned India in a statement that “we are fully prepared to respond to the entire spectrum of the threat.”
Pakistani and Indian troops deployed along the border with Kashmir often exchange fire and both sides routinely blame the other for initiating the violence. The two South Asian nuclear-armed rivals have fought two wars over their competing claims to Kashmir. A 2003 cease-fire largely has held despite small, but regular, skirmishes.
Rebel groups have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989. More than 68,000 people have been killed in the fighting and in a subsequent Indian military crackdown.
Associated Press writer Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar, India, contributed to this report