SRINAGAR — Indian and Pakistani officials traded accusations Feb. 4 following the deaths of four Indian soldiers and one Pakistani civilian, who were killed during an exchange of gunfire along the highly militarized de facto border that divides the disputed region of Kashmir between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Two Pakistani children and two Indian soldiers were injured, officials said.
An Indian official says Pakistan started firing artillery and small arms Feb. 4 onto Indian positions, while a Pakistani official says Indian forces started the violence by firing onto the Pakistani side.
Each said their forces returned fire only in retaliation. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
India and Pakistan often accuse each other of violating a 2003 cease-fire agreement. Both countries accuse the other of initiating border skirmishes leading to the deaths of soldiers and civilians.
Tensions have increased since the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in India in 2014.
IANS adds that Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire agreement with India 834 times on the international border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir over the last three years, killing 97 people and injuring 383 others, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said Feb. 5.
In reply to a written question by a ruling Peoples Democratic Party legislator in the upper house of the bicameral legislature, she said those who died included 41 civilians and 56 security personnel.
Of the ceasefire violations, 379 took place in 2017, 233 in 2016 and 222 in 2015.
Giving details of the civilians killed by Pakistani shelling and firing, the chief minister said 12 people were killed in 2017, 13 in 2016 and 16 in 2015.
Of the 383 injured, 233 were civilians and 150 were security personnel.
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir, a Himalayan territory divided between them and claimed by both in its entirety.
The have fought two wars over Kashmir’s control since they won independence from Britain in 1947.