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Kashmir: Cross-border fire kills 10

October 20, 2019

The armies of India and Pakistan have blamed each other for the deaths and for violating a cease-fire. Protesters in Pakistan have marched with a large Kashmiri flag, as the region remains under Indian restrictions.

A Pakistani soldier at the border of Kashmir
Image: AFP/Getty Images/A. Qureshi

India and Pakistan have traded blame over the latest deadly clash in disputed Kashmir, with at least 10 people being killed on both sides.

Colonel Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for the Indian army, accused Pakistani soldiers of firing "unprovoked" at an Indian border post, in what he called a violation of a 2003 cease-fire between the two countries.

Later Sunday, the Pakistani military issued a statement which said Indian troops had committed "unprovoked cease-fire violations" that caused the deaths of five civilians and one soldier, while wounding several others.

Pakistan said  Indian troops had targeted civilians in the Jura, Shahkot and Nousehri sectors, prompting their soldiers to return fire.

Hostilities flare amid India crackdown

The two neighbors have fought over the border region for decades, which is technically split between the nations. However, both countries claim it in its entirety. After several wars fought over Kashmir, India and Pakistan agreed to a delicate cease-fire deal in 2003, which has been broken numerous times by sporadic cross-border shelling.

Recently, hostilities have once again flared as the nationalist government led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clamped down on the region. On August 5, the government stripped the area of its semi-autonomous status, interrupted communication and transport in and out of the region, imposed a curfew and sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the area.

Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promotes the idea that India should be an exclusively Hindu nation. The population of the India-administered Kashmir valley is 95% Muslim.

As tensions erupted on Sunday, protesters in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, held a solidarity march through the city with a massive Kashmiri flag, which was 5 kilometers (3-miles) long.

es/cmk (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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