Farce of accusations over border skirmishes continues

Updated 13 Aug 2013

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The picturesque Himalayan territory is divided between India and Pakistan by the UN-monitored LoC, but both countries claim it in full.  — Photo by Reuters
The picturesque Himalayan territory is divided between India and Pakistan by the UN-monitored LoC, but both countries claim it in full. — Photo by Reuters

SRINAGAR: India and Pakistan have again accused each other of firing across the Line of Control (LoC), the latest development in a series of allegations of cross-border attacks made by both sides.

An Indian army commander on Tuesday accused Pakistani troops of firing intermittently through the night on the Mendhar sector of the border, 180 kilometres southwest of Srinagar, the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir.

An AFP report quoted the Indian army as saying in a statement that Pakistani soldiers started firing at Indian posts in Mendhar district late on Monday and about an hour later in the Balakot area of Poonch sector, with the firing continuing until about 6am Tuesday.

“Pakistani soldiers used small arms, machine guns and mortars. We gave a calibrated response,” an army officer said separately, on condition of anonymity.

Moreover, the website of Indian newspaper The Hindu quoted, in a Press Trust of India report, an Indian Border Security Force (BSF) official as anonymously saying that “there was firing by Pakistani Rangers on Narianpur Border Out Post (BoP) in Ramgarh forward area in Samba district around 0730 hours”.

The official further claimed that firing came from Ashraf post of Pakistan, according to the report.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani military official accused Indian troops of firing late Monday at Pakistani military posts, according to an AP report. This official too requested anonymity.

Tensions have flared in the Kashmir valley since the ambush and killing last week of five Indian soldiers in the Poonch sector, which India blamed on Pakistani soldiers.

The ambush sparked a series of cross-border skirmishes which the rival neighbours blamed on one another.

Pakistan accused India of killing a civilian during firing on Monday and summoned its envoy in Islamabad to register a protest.

Last week's ambush was the deadliest such incident along the LoC since the two countries agreed to a ceasefire in 2003. Pakistan denied its soldiers were involved in the attack.

Indian Defence Minister A K Antony last week hinted at stronger military action along the LoC in the wake of the ambush.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been vocal in his desire for better relations with India since his election in May, but the recent flare-ups have tested the resolve for peace on both sides.

The picturesque Himalayan territory is divided between India and Pakistan by the UN-monitored LoC, but both countries claim it in full.

A dozen militant groups have also been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for the independence of the disputed territory or for its merger with Pakistan.

Although violence has abated during the last decade, the fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, dead.