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India lodges protest with Pakistan over Kashmir attack

India has lodged a 'strong protest' with Pakistan over the killing of five soldiers in Kashmir. The attack close to the cease-fire line is threatening plans for fresh talks on the disputed Himalayan region.

India claims that five of its soldiers were killed when Pakistani troops fired at their post in Poonch, on Indian-controlled territory close to the “Line of Control.”

New Delhi told Pakistan's deputy envoy that they considered the Tuesday incident a “gross violation” of a cease-fire agreement from 2003.

"The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms," Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony said in a statement to parliament.

Pakistan has denied any involvement and rejected claims that its soldiers may have crossed into Indian territory.

Map showing Pakistan and India with 'Line of Control'

Tensions are rife along the 'Line of Control' (in black).

A cease-fire has been in place in Kashmir for ten years, but sporadic violations occur.

India and Pakistan regularly accuse each other of incursions or firing mortars and gunshots across the line of control.

Despite this, the two sides introduced several improvements on the ground, such as easing cross-border travel and trade, in December last year.

Talks in jeopardy

Tensions rose in January of this year following the beheading of an Indian border guard, also in the Poonch area.

But Pakistan's newly elected prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has signaled his openness to resuming peace talks.

India now claims that the sincerity of such overtures has been thrown into question.

Political analysts believe the Indian government is now under pressure to adopt a tough stance as it heads toward elections next year.

"The peace talks were in any case quite tentative, and they have now certainly suffered a serious blow," Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research think tank in New Delhi told the Reuters news agency.

The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was part of the British Empire. Since India and Pakistan gained independence from Britain in 1947 they have fought two wars over the disputed Himalayan region.

It is currently split into areas controlled by India and Pakistan respectively, as well as the northeastern section, which is claimed by China.

rg/tj (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)