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Pakistan accuses India of killing two soldiers in Kashmir

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Pakistan accused Indian troops Thursday of killing two soldiers in disputed Kashmir, the latest in a series of clashes which have raised tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Skirmishes have erupted across the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border in Kashmir, since five Indian soldiers were killed in a raid two weeks ago.

Delhi blamed that ambush on the Pakistan army, but Islamabad denied the claims and has repeatedly called for restraint and dialogue.

Intermittent clashes since the raid have now left another four people dead, jeopardising a planned meeting between the two countries' prime ministers on the sidelines of a UN meeting in New York next month.

"At 1150 hours today (0650 GMT) Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing at LoC, Rakhchakri sector near Rawlakot. Sepoy Habib embraced shahadat (martyrdom) due to unprovoked Indian firing," the Pakistani military said in a statement.

A few hours later the military announced the death of another solider.

"Indian troops again resorted to unprovoked firing at Hotspring (Tatta Pani) sector in the evening. A Pakistani soldier Sepoy Gul Wahab has embraced shahadat (martyrdom) while two soldiers are injured," it said.

Pakistani troops returned fire, the statement added.

After the first incident the Indian military accused Pakistan of firing first.

"We only retaliated effectively to the ceasefire violation, using small arms and heavy-calibre weapons as they did," Colonel R.K. Palta told AFP.

He said firing "from across" the LoC caused no damage or injuries on the Indian side, though local government sources said a woman and a child were injured in Indian Kashmir.

On Thursday the Pakistan foreign ministry summoned the Indian high commissioner in Islamabad and lodged a protest over what it said was the killing of an army officer and the wounding of a soldier the day before.

"Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani called Indian High Commissioner Dr. T.C.A Raghavan to the Foreign Office, today, and conveyed Pakistan's serious concern over the continued and unwarranted ceasefire violations by the Indian army resulting in loss of precious human lives," a statement said.

Jilani also called for dialogue to reduce tensions along the LoC, it added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's National Assembly, or lower house, passed a unanimous resolution on Thursday in which it condemned India's "continued violation" of the ceasefire along the LoC.

A woman and a child were wounded in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in another firing incident overnight, a local official told AFP.

Pakistan and India each control part of Kashmir but claim it in full. The scenic Himalayan territory has been the trigger for two of the three wars between them.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been vocal in his desire for better relations with India since his election in May, but the recent flare-ups have thrown this into doubt.

A deadly flare-up along the LoC in January brought a halt to peace talks that had only just resumed following a three-year hiatus sparked by the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

India blamed Pakistani militants for the attack.

A foreign ministry spokesman said Pakistan was committed to "the policy of restraint, responsibility, and dialogue in the larger interest of peace in the region" and urged India to take steps to avoid further violence.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130822/pakistan-accuses-india-killing-two-soldiers-kashmir