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Pakistani,Indian troops exchanged fire at LoC

15 August, 2016

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RAWALPINDI: Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged fire at the Line of Control (LoC) on Independence Day, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said on Sunday.

The ISPR said that Indian troops resorted to "unprovoked firing" in the Neza Pir Sector near Rawalakot between 2am to 8:30am on August 14. No casualties have been reported so far on either side of the LoC.

"India used all types of heavy weapons, including mortars and artillery," the statement said. "Some of the rounds landed at civilian houses near the LoC."

Pakistani troops gave a "befitting response" to the "unprovoked firing" by India's Border Security Force (BSF), the ISPR said.

Time of Indian newspaper however cited Indian Defence spokesman Lt-Col Manish Mehta as saying that the Pakistan Army resorted to an unprovoked ceasefire violation along the LoC in the Poonch Sector. "Our troops are responding appropriately," Mehta said.

According to the newspaper, this is the first ceasefire violation in four months. Despite a 2003 border ceasefire agreement signed by both countries, cross-border firing along the working boundary is intermittent with both parties frequently accusing the other of breaching it.

The director general of military operations (DGMO) of the Pakistan Army contacted his Indian counterpart and lodged a protest against the unprovoked firing by Indian troops at the Neza Pir Sector of the LoC, said the ISPR. The contact was made via the hotline established between the two DGMOs, it added.

Reports of cross-border firing come amid a heightened tension between Pakistan and India over the bloody violence in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) despite Pakistan's recent proposal to India to hold a dialogue on Kashmir and its call for a bilateral moratorium on tests of nuclear weapons.

The killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani sparked anti-India protests in the restive Himalayan region, with more than 70 people dead in clashes between protesters and Indian security forces.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh traded barbs over Kashmir at the SAARC Home Ministers Summit in Islamabad earlier this month.

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