Pakistan says Indian fire across border kills van driver
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s army on Thursday accused neighboring Indian soldiers of targeting a school van from across the frontier in Kashmir, killing the driver, leaving the students “severely traumatized” and forcing local residents to flee to safety.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said Indian forces in an “unethical and unprofessional” move attacked the school van in Battal village in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir. He said it was a violation of international norms on the part of India.
Haleema Shaheen, a tearful college student, said she was inside the van when bullets struck the vehicle. She told reporters that van driver Sarfaraz Ahmed was killed but all the students escaped unhurt.
The Indian army denied Pakistan’s claim, saying there was no ceasefire violation from their side.
The incident came days after India said gunmen belonging to the Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed were behind a weekend attack on an army camp in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
In that Saturday attack, gunmen stormed the Sunjuwan army camp and fought Indian troops for over 48 hours, leaving five Indian soldiers and one civilian dead. It prompted India to warn Pakistan that it “would pay for this misadventure.”
Pakistan denied involvement in the attack.
On Thursday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry summoned Indian diplomat J.P. Singh and lodged a protest with India for deliberately targeting the school van, killing the driver and “leaving the school children severely traumatized.”
Also on Thursday, Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider, the prime minister of Pakistan’s part of Kashmir, denounced the attack and called on the United Nations and world leaders to help resolve the Kashmir issue.
Kashmir is divided between India and archrival Pakistan. Both claim the region in its entirety. Several militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. Around 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.