Pakistan and India both lost soldiers Thursday as clashes escalated along the de-facto border between the two countries. Several Indian soldiers were reportedly killed in a shootout and one soldier was captured by the Pakistan army. Meanwhile, Pakistan's military claimed two Pakistani soldiers were killed during the fighting in the disputed region of Kashmir, according to conflicting media reports.
The official body count was unclear. Pakistan claimed it had killed eight Indian soldiers and that the Indian army had recovered the bodies, but a spokesman for the Indian army denied the reports. An Indian army official based in New Delhi said: "It is confirmed one soldier from 37 Rashtriya Rifles with weapons has inadvertently crossed over to the Pakistan side of the Line of Control."
A conflict between the nuclear-armed militaries began Thursday at 2:30 a.m. local time and lasted until at least 8 a.m. Indian defense officials said it launched strikes to wipe out "terror launch pads."
"The Indian army conducted surgical strikes last night at these launchpads. Significant casualties have been caused to these terrorists and those who are trying to support them... The operations aimed at neutralizing the terrorists have since ceased," a statement read.
Pakistan promised a "forceful response" if India carried out another attack and Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called the campaign an "unprovoked and naked aggression" of Indian forces.
"We will destroy India if it dares to impose war on us. Pakistan army is fully prepared to answer any misadventure of India," Pakistan's Minister of Defense Khawaja Asif said Wednesday to a local TV network. "We have not made atomic device to display in a showcase. If such a situation arises we will use it and eliminate India."
India and Pakistan have fought three wars for control of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region, since 1947. The region is divided up between both nations and the last major conflict over Kashmir was in 1999.
The latest conflict stems from an attack Sept. 18 that saw 18 Indian soldiers killed on an army base in Uri. India blamed the assault on Pakistan-backed militants. Pakistan denied that it supported the attack.
World leaders were eager to see both sides resolve the conflict through dialogue, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.