soldiers killed

File photo of Indian army personnel and policemen moving the body of a soldier reportedly killed along the line of control between India and Pakistan, to a morgue in the Bhimber Gali sector of the district of Rajouri, some 159 kms from Jammu on July 17, 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

SRINAGAR, India — At least four Indian soldiers were killed Dec. 23 in Pakistani firing along the highly militarized de facto border that divides the disputed region of Kashmir between the nuclear-armed rivals, Indian officials said.

Pakistani soldiers violated the 2003 cease-fire accord by targeting Indian posts in Rajouri sector, the Indian army said in a statement. It called the firing an "unprovoked cease-fire violation."

The statement said that the dead include an army officer and that Indian soldiers retaliated "strongly and effectively."

There was no immediate reaction from Pakistan.

Following the incident, heavy cross-border firing and shelling was reported at several places in the region.

Kashmir's director-general of police, S.P. Vaid, said the four soldiers died after they were attacked by a team of attackers who came from the Pakistani side of Kashmir.

In the past, the Indian army has blamed a combination of the Pakistani army's border action team and militants for carrying out operations along the Line of Control.

Both countries have previously accused the other of initiating past border skirmishes leading to the deaths of soldiers and civilians.

Last year, Indian and Pakistani soldiers engaged in some of the worst fighting along the Line of Control since the two countries agreed to the cease-fire accord.

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