3 Pakistan Army soldiers killed in exchange of fire with Indian troops near LoC: ISPR
Three Pakistan Army soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire with Indian troops near the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
"Three Pakistani soldiers valiantly embraced shahadat at the Line of Control while responding to Indian unprovoked firing," the ISPR said.
The army's media wing identified the soldiers as Captain Taimoor Ali Khan, Havaldar Mushtaq Hussain and Lance Naik Ghulam Hussain.
An ISPR statement also said that seven Indian soldiers confirmed dead in retaliatory fire.
The ISPR added that the exchange of fire between Pakistani and Indian troops is ongoing.
"It may be mentioned here that in order to distract attention from the real issue of atrocities in India-held Kashmir by Indian troops, they are now targeting civilians population across the LoC towards the Pakistan side," the ISPR claimed.
Earlier today, Indian troops targeted a passenger bus near the LoC, killing nine people and injuring 11 others in Lawat.
In a separate incident of Indian shelling in Nakyal and Tatta Pani, one person was killed and seven others injured.
'We reserve the right to respond'
Contact between the DGMOs of Pakistan and India was established today, said a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
The Pakistan Army DGMO demarched his Indian counterpart regarding the earlier targeting of a civilian bus on the Pakistani side of the disputed border.
“We reserve the right to respond at the time and place of our choosing,” said Pakistan’s DGMO, added the ISPR statement.
The latest incident of cross-border firing comes just a day after the Indian army claimed three of its soldiers were killed along the LoC and threatened Pakistani forces of retribution.
The Indian army also claimed that the body of one of the dead soldiers had been "mutilated."
The Foreign Office however rejected the claim, saying that the "reports are a fabrication and a blatant attempt to malign Pakistan".
Cross-border firing a new normal
Tensions between Pakistan and India have been running high following an alleged 'surgical strike', unrest in Kashmir and the Uri army base attack in September.
Since then there have been repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing in Kashmir, with both sides reporting deaths and injuries including of civilians.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped up a drive to isolate Pakistan diplomatically after the Uri army base attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed. Hours after the attack occurred, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed Pakistan a 'terrorist state' and accused Pakistan of involvement.
The Uri attack occurred days before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was set to address the United Nations General Assembly regarding Indian human rights violations in held Kashmir.
Following the attack, India claimed it had conducted a cross-border 'surgical strike' against 'launch pads of terror' in Azad Jammu and Kashmir — a claim Pakistan has strongly rejected.
Pakistan maintains that India is attempting to divert the world's attention away from atrocities committed by government forces in India-held Kashmir.
Pakistan and India have, most recently, locked horns over Kashmir since Indian forces stepped up a crackdown against protesters after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by government forces in July.