Civilians, soldiers killed after India, Pakistan trade fire on Kashmir border | News | DW | 02.03.2019
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Civilians, soldiers killed after India, Pakistan trade fire on Kashmir border

At least seven people, including two soldiers, have died during heavy gunfire in the disputed Kashmir region. Both countries have vowed to step back from the brink but multiple ceasefire violations have been reported.

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Release of pilot could ease India-Pakistan tension

At least five civilians were killed and 11 injured on Saturday as Indian and Pakistani soldiers traded fire in the disputed Kashmir frontier region. The resumed fighting violated a temporary ceasefire put in place after a week of escalating unease at the border.

The dead included a 24-year-old woman and her two young children in Indian-administered Kashmir. Their father was also critically injured.

On the Pakistani side, officials said two civilians died after heavy firing from Indian troops late on Friday night. Two Pakistani soldiers also died after an exchange of fire with Indian forces near the line of control that separates Indian and Pakistan-administered areas of Kashmir, the military said.

De-escalation

Despite the truce violations, the two neighbors appeared to step back from the brink on Saturday as India handed over the body of a Pakistani citizen killed in an Indian jail.

Indian inmates beat the man to death in revenge for the February 14 terrorist attack on Indian forces in Kashmir, according to Pakistan's foreign ministry. "India had failed to protect the Pakistani prisoner," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qurehsi said.

The February 14 suicide attack killed 40 members of India's security forces. The latest round of tensions erupted after New Delhi accused Islamabad of harboring the Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group that claimed responsibility for the attack.

Return of Indian pilot

The return of the Pakistani prisoner's body came a day after Pakistan returned a captured Indian air force pilot whose plane was shot down and crashed in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir earlier this week.

The Pakistani government called it "a goodwill gesture aimed at de-escalating rising tensions with India."

Pakistan's military nevertheless said its air force and navy "continue to be alert and vigilant," but that it would respect the ceasefire. Kashmir has already been the site of two wars between India and Pakistan.

A top Indian minister, meanwhile, said on Saturday the government would not share proof that "a very large number" of militants were killed in air strikes inside Pakistan this week.

Despite doubts that there were any casualties, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley insisted that "no security agencies ever share operational details."

Indian warplanes carried out air strikes on Tuesday inside northeast Pakistan's Balakot on what New Delhi called militant
camps.

Islamabad denied any such camps existed and said the Indian bombs hit a largely empty hillside without hurting anyone.

mm, amp/jlw (dpa, AP)

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