Indian farmers plant paddy cuttings in a field near the India-Pakistan border at Wagah.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Indian forces fired across the de facto border in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir early on Wednesday, killing three Pakistani soldiers, the Pakistani army said on Thursday.

It said Indian forces opened “unprovoked” fire across the so-called Line of Control (LoC) — which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan — in Neelam valley.

“The soldiers were moving from one post to another when they came under fire. Three soldiers were killed,” military spokesman Major Gen. Athar Abbas said.

Pakistani forces returned fire in retaliation and the incident was raised with local Indian commanders, he said.

A spokesman for the Indian army in Kashmir gave a different account.

“They opened fire first and we retaliated...In the morning again they started firing mortars again and we retaliated and the exchange of fire continued,” Lt. Col. J.S. Brar told Reuters.

The incident underlined the fragility of ties between the countries that have fought three wars since 1947.

There were frequent exchanges of fire between the two forces before the neighbours agreed to a ceasefire across the dividing line there in 2003. They continue to exchange sporadic fire.

The latest incident is unlikely to have any impact on renewed efforts by the two countries to improve their ties.

India and Pakistan in February resumed a formal peace process broken off after the 2008 attack on Indian's financial capital of Mumbai blamed on Pakistan-based militants, which killed 166 people.

Meeting in the Indian capital of New Delhi in July, foreign ministers of the two countries hailed a new era in ties, and agreed to fight militancy and boost trade and travel.

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