MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani and Indian troops traded fire in the disputed region of Kashmir, killing three Pakistanis and a teenage Indian student, officials from the two sides said Thursday.
In a statement, the military blamed Indian troops for initiating an “unprovoked cease-fire violation" in the villages of Kailer and Rakhchikri along the Line of Control on Wednesday night.
The military said it lost a soldier when India's fire hit a Pakistani post while a Pakistani woman and a 16-year-old girl were killed and two civilians were wounded when Indian mortars hit their homes.
Indian officials blamed Pakistan for initiating fire. Lt. Col. Devender Anand, an Indian army spokesman, said Pakistani troops attacked Indian positions with small arms and mortar shells in at least four places on Wednesday evening and on Thursday.
He called the firing an “unprovoked” violation of the 2003 cease-fire accord between the two countries. An Indian local civil administrator, Rahul Yadav, said a teenage student was killed in the shelling from the Pakistani side.
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said earlier Thursday that it summoned an Indian diplomat in Islamabad to protest New Delhi's cease-fire violations, which Islamabad says pose a threat to regional peace and security. Kashmir is divided between the two nuclear-armed rivals but claimed by both in its entirety.
Pakistani district administration official Mohammad Yousaf said Indian artillery hit Pakistani posts and two villages as residents were breaking their dawn-to-dusk fast as part of the rituals during the holy month of Ramadan. At least three homes located near the Line of Control were damaged, he said.
Sardar Masood Khan, head of the Pakistani-administered Kashmir, condemned what he said was the latest cease-fire violation by India, alleging that the Indian army had targeted civilians.
Pakistan and India have traded fire in Kashmir in recent weeks despite both countries' struggles to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, has killed 346 people in Pakistan and at least 1,079 in India.
Associated Press writer Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar, India, contributed to this report.