NEW DELHI/JAMMU — After a five-year-old girl and a soldier were killed in Jammu and Kashmir in heavy shelling by Pakistani forces, the Indian and Pakistan armies July 17 warned one another against further military aggression along the Line of Control, each army promising retaliation should another ceasefire violation occur.
The latest in a series of ceasefire violations came as two senior military commanders from each side held talks to de-escalate tensions, one day after four Pakistani soldiers and a civilian were killed after the Indian Army allegedly targeted a Pakistan Army vehicle across the LoC in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Military spokesperson Lieutenant colonel Manish Mehta said in Jammu that Pakistani troops engaged in unprovoked shelling at the Bhimber Gali, Mendhar and Balakote sectors of the Poonch and Rajouri districts.
The Pakistan shelling hit a girl, who was identified as Saida of Balakote in Poonch district. The soldier was killed in the Rajouri district's Tarkundi area.
The spokesman said the firing along the LoC stopped in the afternoon as the Indian Army retaliated "strongly and effectively."
Authorities have decided to close all schools near the border in the Rajouri district indefinitely.
Soldiers also exchanged fire in at least three places in Kashmir's Uri sector where an Indian soldier was injured. The firing in the Uri sector is ongoing.
As the border tension raged, the Directors Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan spoke over a hotline. The DGMOs usually speak on Tuesdays but held an unscheduled call July 17 at Pakistan's request.
The Indian DGMO, Lieutenant General A.K. Bhatt, said that "all the ceasefire violations" were initiated by the Pakistan Army, according to an Indian Army statement.
The DGMO also noted that firing from Indian troops was initiated against armed intruders trying to sneak into India "from close proximity of Pakistan posts."
"The trend of infiltration along the LoC continued with active support of Pakistan forward posts impacting peace and tranquility along the LoC and also the internal security situation," said.
He further said continued sniper attacks and targeting of Indian troops were "undertaken through cross border actions supported by Pakistani Army troops."
"The Indian Army reserves the right to retaliate appropriately to any incident of violation of ceasefire but is sincere in its effort to maintain peace provided there was reciprocity," he added.
Pakistan DGMO Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza brought up the targeting of Pakistani troops that resulted in the death of four soldiers and a civilian in Athmuqam sector of Pakistan-administered Kashmir July 16.
According to the Pakistan military, after Indian troops targeted an Army vehicle, it fell into the Neelum river and the four soldiers drowned.
The Associated Press adds that Pakistan has banned tourists from the Neelum River valley area following the drowning of the four soldiers.
Choudhary Mohammad Fareed, a top government official in Neelum, said the “threat” to people is too great and that no new tourists will be able to enter. The stay permits for those already in the valley will not be extended.
The picturesque Neelum Valley stretches along the boundary separating the Pakistan- and India-controlled parts of Kashmir and draws many tourists.
Both nuclear-armed states claim the disputed Kashmir region in its entirety. Pakistan and India often trade fire across the dividing line, blaming each other for violations of the cease-fire agreement signed in 2003.