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Indian troops kill Pakistani soldier along Kashmir line of control

ISLAMABAD - Indian troops shot and killed a Pakistani soldier who crossed the makeshift border separating Indian and Pakistani held Kashmir, officials said Friday.

The incident in the Kashmir region, which is claimed by both Pakistan and India, evoked similar incidents in January in which three Pakistani soldiers and two Indian soldiers were killed. The deaths ratcheted up tension in an area where the two countries have long battled for dominance.

A Pakistani military official said in a text message to reporters on Friday that the soldier was reportedly killed on Thursday night after he'd accidentally crossed the line of control that separates the Pakistani and the Indian held sides of Kashmir region. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with military protocol.

Lt.-Col. Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for the Indian army in Kashmir, said the soldier was killed in a firefight with Indian troops and an Indian soldier was injured. He said Indian troops saw "suspicious movement" in the Nowshera sector of the line of control.

"Our troops challenged him. This individual resorted to indiscriminate firing. Our troops retaliated. In the ensuing firefight, he was killed, and one of our soldiers was injured," Kalia said.

Kalia added that Indian forces realized the dead man was a soldier "after the Pakistan army contacted our officers."

"We are returning his body with full respect as a soldier deserves," he said.

Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over the Muslim-dominated region that each claim as their own so any incident along the line is fraught with tension.

In January, three Pakistani soldiers and two Indian soldiers were killed in a series of attacks along the line of control. India said one of its soldiers was beheaded.

Pakistan and India struck a cease-fire agreement over Kashmir in November 2003. There have been periodic violations of the cease-fire, but the incidents in January were the most serious.

The tension disrupted cultural and sporting ties. Performances by a Pakistani theatre group were cancelled in the western Indian city of Jaipur and in the Indian capital following protests by hard-line Hindu groups, and nine Pakistani hockey players who went to India to participate in a tournament were sent home.

More recently, the Indian-held part of Kashmir has been rocked by violent anti-India protests after a man convicted in the 2001 attack on India's Parliament was hanged in a New Delhi jail.

Many in Kashmir believe Mohammed Guru did not get a fair trial and the secrecy with which the execution was carried out only fuelled the anger in a region where anti-India sentiment runs deep.

A curfew has been in place since the execution, but groups of demonstrators have defied it and clashed with government forces. Three protesters have been killed and more than 100 have been detained, according to police.

Insurgents have been fighting in Kashmir for more than two decades, demanding either a separate state or merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan.

India accuses Pakistan of financing and supporting insurgents agitating in Kashmir.


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