ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani army on Wednesday protested to India over the killing of one of its soldiers in Kashmir, the fifth fatality this year in heightened hostilities that have raised concerns about ceasefire violations between the neighbours.
Indian troops shot dead the soldier at a position called Kundi during firing from the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Himalayan territory, Pakistan army said in a statement.
Two Pakistani and two Indian soldiers were killed early this month in the worst outbreak of violence in Kashmir since India and Pakistan agreed a ceasefire nearly a decade ago.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over the region both nations claim.
Following public and media anger at the alleged decapitation of one Indian soldier, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there could be “no business as usual” with Pakistan, and the army chief said his commanders should retaliate to provocation.
Despite the heated rhetoric, government spokesmen on both sides have insisted the deaths will not derail talks meant to improve relations and experts say an escalation is unlikely.
The Pakistani government is fighting for survival over corruption charges and its response has been less fiery than India's to the tensions on the border.
The Pakistani army director of military operations said he would call his Indian counterpart on Wednesday to complain about the latest killing. India's army spokesman confirmed the call took place on a hotline set up to help defuse tensions, but did not give details of the conversation.
India did not confirm the killing but said if a soldier had died it could have been from Indian gunfire in response to shots from Pakistan.
“If any Pakistani soldier has been killed, it may have been in retaliatory firing. Our soldiers do not cross the LoC,” army chief Gen. Bikram Singh told reporters.
The latest skirmish followed a warning by Singh on Tuesday that he expected his commanders to respond aggressively to “provocation and fire”.
Singh spoke during a visit to the family of Lance Naik Hemraj, a soldier the Indian army says was decapitated by Pakistani soldiers last week.
India-Pakistan ties had improved after nose-diving in 2008 when gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in a three-day rampage India blamed on a Pakistani militant group.
Firing and small skirmishes are common along the internationally recognised 740-km LoC despite the ceasefire that was agreed in 2003.