Pakistani officials say Indian fire kills 3 near Kashmir
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani officials on Monday said “unprovoked” gunfire and shelling by Indian border guards killed three civilians near the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, while India said Pakistan fired first.
The two Pakistani officials said another 14 people were wounded in the incident Sunday night near Sialkot, a city in the eastern Punjab province. They say Pakistani forces responded, and hundreds of residents fled the exchange of fire. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed the incident, saying it summoned an Indian diplomat to lodge a protest over “unprovoked cease-fire violations by India” during the past three days. It said a teenage girl was among the three people killed on Sunday.
A top official from India’s Border Security Force blamed Pakistan for the latest exchange of fire.
“They (Pakistan) started firing last evening, we fired back in self-defense. They specifically targeted civilian areas. They have always been violating the cease-fire, and our troops have just been responding in self-defense,” Rakesh Sharma said.
A local Indian official said at least 1,500 villagers had been moved to safer places following the unrest along the border. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Skirmishes between Pakistani and Indian border guards are common, with each side routinely blaming the other. Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the disputed Kashmir region. Each controls part of Kashmir but both nuclear-armed nations claim it in its entirety.
Associated Press writer Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar, India, contributed to this report.