JAMMU, India (AP) — Five members of a family were killed and two others wounded on Sunday in cross border shelling between Indian and Pakistani soldiers in disputed Kashmir, officials said.
The five were killed after a shell fired by Pakistani soldiers hit their home in Poonch region along the militarized Line of Control that divides the Himalayan territory between the two nuclear-armed rivals, said S.P. Vaid, the police chief.
The dead included a woman, two children and a teenage boy. Vaid said the injured have been hospitalized and authorities were evacuating civilians from the area amid shelling and firing.
India’s army said its soldiers were responding to what it called unprovoked violation of the 2003 cease-fire agreement between the two countries.
Pakistan did not immediately comment. However, both the nuclear-armed rivals routinely blame the other for starting any firing and insist they are only retaliating.
The violence comes amid heightened diplomatic tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad as both accused each other of harassing their diplomatic staff in the two capitals.
This year soldiers of the two nations have also been engaged in fierce border skirmishes along the rugged and mountainous Line of Control, as well as lower-altitude 200-kilometer (125-mile) boundary separating Indian-controlled Kashmir and the Pakistani province of Punjab.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over their competing claims to the region.
Many see the fighting as part of what’s become a predictable cycle of violence, as the region convulses with decades-old animosities between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, where rebel groups demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
A flare-up early this year similarly sent thousands to temporary shelters for days.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training anti-India rebels and also helping them by providing gunfire as cover for incursions into the Indian side.
Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to the militants and to Kashmiris who oppose Indian rule. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown since 1989.