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Asia

Pakistan: Seven soldiers killed by India shelling in Kashmir

Islamabad has accused India of attacking positions in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, amid an uptick in cross-border violence. Pakistan's foreign ministry said the military responded in a "befitting manner," returning fire.

Indian Border Security Force personnel stand guard at the India-Pakistan border

Indian Border Security Force personnel stand guard at the India-Pakistan border

The Pakistani army on Monday claimed that seven of its soldiers had been killed when Indian forces shelled their positions across the frontier in the disputed Kashmir.

"Seven soldiers embraced martyrdom at the Line of Control (LOC) in Bhimber sector in a cross fire LOC violation by Indian troops late last night," the military's media wing said in a statement.

"Pakistani troops while responding to Indian unprovoked firing targeted Indian posts effectively," it added.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said it condemned the "unprovoked" ceasefire violation, saying the military responded in a "befitting manner."

Tensions between both countries have flared since an alleged militant group attacked an Indian outpost, killing 19 Indian soldiers in September.

India blamed Pakistani militants for the September raid, saying it launched "surgical strikes" across the border, although Islamabad has denied such an operation took place.

Last month, India expelled a Pakistani diplomat after accusing the man of spying for intelligence services.

Islamabad responded by declaring Indian diplomat Surjeet Singh persona non grata, and consequently ordering him to leave the country.

Meanwhile, India-ruled Kashmir has witnessed months of protests prompted by the assassination of a militant leader in July.

Since then, up to 90 people have been killed in clashes with Indian security forces, many of them young protesters.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from British colonial rule, two of which have centered on the disputed Kashmir region.

ls/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)