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MUZAFFARABAD: Four Pakistani soldiers were martyred in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Monday by Indian shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC), the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

“The troops were busy with maintenance of a communication line in Jandrot [area] when they were fired upon and hit by [a] heavy mortar round,” said the army’s media affairs wing in a brief statement.

Jandrot is located in Nakyal sector of AJK’s southern Kotli district.

An exchange of fire following the Indian shelling had left three Indian soldiers dead and some others injured, the ISPR added.

The heavily militarised LoC has been witnessing frequent skirmishes and artillery duels, in a serious breach of a ceasefire agreement signed by both armies in November 2003.

The tensions mounted after an attack by suspected militants on an Indian army installation in Uri in September 2016 had left 18 Indian soldiers dead.

Following the attack, India had claimed to have conducted a cross-border ‘surgical strike’ against the ‘launch-pads of terror’ in AJK, in a bid to appease public sentiment.

However, Pakistan had strongly rejected the claim.

Since then several casualties, mostly of civilians, have taken place in cross-border shellings.

Opposing claims

News agencies reported opposing claims by the two countries about casualties their troops inflicted upon each other.

According to AFP, the Pakistan Army said four of its soldiers and three Indian troops were killed in an exchange of fire across the LoC.

India denied it suffered any casualties, but said its soldiers had killed five “militants” who attempted to cross the LoC in a separate incident in Uri, 100 kilometres northwest of Srinagar.

“During the night a group of infiltrating militants were challenged by the army, triggering a fierce exchange of fire in which five militants were killed,” superintendent of Indian police Imtiyaz Hussain told AFP.

According to Reuters, a Pakistani military source, however, denied that any militants had been killed while trying to cross from Azad Kashmir to India-held valley.

According to PTI news agency, India claimed that it had killed seven Pakistani soldiers in its “retaliatory action” in Mendhar sector of Poonch district on Monday morning. It quoted a senior official as saying that the Indian army had carried out the action following the killing of its soldier in Pakistani firing at Rajouri on Saturday.

According to APP, the Foreign Office on Monday summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner, J.P. Singh, and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces, using heavy mortars in Jandrot sub-sector of Kotli, resulting in the martyrdom of four Pakistani soldiers. The attack left five other people injured.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2018