Gunfire has erupted again in the Kashmir region between India and Pakistan. The two countries both claim the other side began the offensive, which killed nine civilians and left 63 others wounded.
The shelling and gunfire occurred at midnight according to the AP. It’s not clear which side started the fighting, but both sides suffered causalities as a result.
The Pakistani army released a statement saying six civilians were killed on their side, with an additional 47 injured. The 47 included 22 women and 11 children. They claim the attacks hit near the town of Sialkot with Kanganpur and Bajra Gari villages being the worst hit.
Deutsche Welle reports that Pakistan summoned the Indian high commissioner to issue a formal protest over what it considers a cease-fire violation.
Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif also weighed in on the attack calling it “highly unprofessional, unethical, irresponsible and cowardly.”
On the Indian side, high-ranking Indian Border Security Force official Dharmendra Parikh said that three civilians were killed and 16 more were injured. The attacks struck roughly 15 miles southwest of Jammu, the winter capital of India’s Kashmir province.
India’s security forces accused Pakistan of targeting civilians in the gunfire and shelling, and called the attack “unprovoked.”
That gunfire coincided with the 50 year anniversary of the 1965 war fought over the Kashmir region.
India’s Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, said he bowed to “all brave soldiers who fought for our motherland in the war.”
Clashes in the Kashmir region are still common despite a cease-fire signed by both sides in 2003. The region is split between the two countries, but both sides claim all of Kashmir is legally their territory.
Modi and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, met at a summit in Russia last month and agreed to new talks between the two countries’ security advisers.
The intention was to work out terrorism issues. For example, Pakistan has allegedly been reluctant to go after the suspects in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Likewise, India regularly accuses Pakistan of training militants who go on to fight for Kashmir’s independence or merger with Pakistan — a charge the Pakistani government denies.
Unfortunately for the national leaders, that meeting had to be cancelled, partially because issues relating to the Kashmir region were too divisive.
Earlier this month another nine people were killed and many more wounded in another eruption of gunfire. On Thursday, India also claims it captured a militant leader from Pakistan and killed three more in another round of shootings.
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