RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army on Friday condemned what it described as the “inhuman and brutal killing” of one of its soldiers by Indian troops near the de facto Kashmir border – the first deadly exchange since a truce was agreed a month ago.
The Pakistani military condemned the killing, saying the soldier had become lost and crossed the LoC “inadvertently”, and civilians had seen him being questioned by Indians troops.
“We condemn such an inhuman and brutal act of killing of our soldier after he had identified himself and explained his position,” a spokesman of the military’s public relations wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said.
The ISPR spokesman said that soldier Sepoy Ikhlaq had lost his way between two border posts earlier on Thursday and inadvertently crossed over the LoC in Khoi Ratta sector.
A few civilians at the scene saw the soldier being questioned by the Indians, he said.
“This is not the first such event. We have returned Indian soldiers in the past, who had similarly strayed,” said the spokesman.
He added that the Directors General Military Operations of the two countries spoke on the hotline this morning when the Indian DGMO revealed that the Pakistani soldier had been killed by their troops.
Sepoy Ikhlaq is a resident of Kallar Saydan, 22 years old, and had four years of service, he said.
Meanwhile, the body of the soldier has been handed over to the Pakistani authorities during a flag meeting in Laam Sector on Friday.
The deceased will be laid to rest with full military honour in his native town on Saturday, ISPR sources told the media.
The Pakistani foreign office also condemned the killing, saying that it “goes against the understanding reached between Pakistan and India on speedy return of inadvertent line crossers," and that the incident had “the potential to further vitiate the atmosphere.”
“Pakistan calls upon the Government of India to carry out a thorough investigation into this unfortunate incident and to ensure that such incidents do not recur,” it said in a statement released Friday evening.
Meanwhile, an Indian army spokesman claimed the Pakistani soldier had been killed in a firefight in which one Indian soldier was also wounded.
“We detected some suspicious movement yesterday near the LoC (Line of Control) inside our territory and the challengers from our side fired and in the ensuing firefight he was killed,” said Lieutenant Colonel Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for the Indian army’s northern command.
“At that time we did not know he was a Pakistani soldier. We killed an infiltrator,” the spokesman added.
Kalia said India expected to return the body to Pakistani authorities later in the day.
The incident is the first fatal exchange between troops in the region since the two armies agreed a ceasefire on January 16.
A flare-up along the LoC in early January saw a total of five soldiers killed, three from Pakistan and two from India.
The Indian government expressed outrage after it said one of its soldiers was beheaded although the Pakistan Army denied responsibility for the decapitation.
Cross-border trade and transport links were also suspended for several weeks although they have since resumed.