ISLAMABAD — Pakistan said Dec. 26 that Indian forces killed three of its soldiers near the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region.
A military statement said the “unprovoked cease-fire violation” took place Dec. 25 in Rawalakot in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. It came two days after India’s army said four of its soldiers were killed by Pakistani fire along the de facto border between the South Asian rivals.
In the latest shooting, the Indian military said that its soldiers targeted Pakistani posts after they were fired upon. The Indian troops did not suffer any casualties, officials said.
The confrontation happened hours after the wife and mother of an imprisoned Indian naval officer who faces the death penalty in Pakistan for espionage and sabotage were allowed to meet with him in Islamabad.
After the Dec. 23 shooting, the Indian military had said in a statement that the soldiers’ killings “will not go in vain.” India said Pakistani soldiers had violated the 2003 cease-fire accord by targeting Indian forward posts in the Rajouri sector.
On Dec. 26, Pakistan summoned an Indian diplomat and lodged a protest over the killing of Pakistani soldiers.
The Pakistani army initially said the three soldiers were killed by Indian fire, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal later said the Indian fire provided cover for “non-state actors” to plant explosive devices, which killed the soldiers.
“The Indian actions got a befitting response from the Pakistani side and their guns were silenced,” he said in a statement.
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over the Himalayan territory, which both claim in its entirety. Both countries have repeatedly accused the other of initiating border skirmishes that led to the deaths of soldiers and civilians.
They have fought two of their three wars over the region since they gained independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
Meanwhile, India accused Pakistan of violating mutual understandings on the Dec.26 meeting between the imprisoned Indian naval officer and his wife and mother. Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said that contrary to assurances, the overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating.
It was the first meeting between Kulbhushan Jadhav and his family since he was arrested in March 2016 after allegedly entering the country from Iran.
A Pakistani military tribunal found Jadhav guilty of espionage and sabotage and sentenced him to death, but India obtained an order from the International Court of Justice to halt the execution.
During the meeting, Jadhav was seen sitting behind a glass screen in the Pakistani Foreign Office while his mother and wife sat on the other side. They spoke through an intercom for nearly 40 minutes.
Faisal said Pakistan allowed the meeting as a “humanitarian gesture” following a request from India.
Also on Dec. 26, Indian troops killed a rebel commander in a gunfight in southern Samboora village in Indian-held Kashmir, police said.
Police called the killing of Noor Mohammed a “significant breakthrough.”
A statement by police blamed Mohammed for masterminding and coordinating a string of attacks, including an audacious strike recently by three militants near the highly secured airport in the region’s main city of Srinagar.
Anti-India protests and clashes followed as the fighting raged on Dec. 26, with hundreds of residents hitting streets in solidarity with the rebels. Government forces fired shotgun pellets and tear gas to disperse rock-throwing protesters. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Hussain reported from Srinagar, India.