Continued shelling across the border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir killed four and injured several others, officials from both sides said Monday. In the latest episode in the ongoing violence between the nuclear-armed neighbors, a one-year-old baby, an Indian soldier and a six-year-old boy were reported to have been killed.
Pakistan’s military claimed an 18-month-old girl and another civilian were killed on its side after “unprovoked Indian firing” at the “working boundary” that divides Kashmir between Pakistan’s Punjab province and the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir. India said a Border Security Force head constable and a six-year-old boy were killed after Pakistani soldiers engaged in heavy mortar shelling along the international border in the early hours of Monday morning.
Both India and Pakistan have pressed their claims for the region since becoming independent states in 1947, fighting two wars over it. The Indian-administered region has a majority Muslim population and has been the scene for growing protests against Indian rule in recent months. The killing of a young Kashmiri fighter by Indian forces in July sparked a fresh wave of mass protests and a firm crackdown by India.
Tensions then rose to their highest level in several years after militants, which India claimed came from Pakistan, attacked an Indian military base, killing 19 on Sept. 18. India later said that it carried out “surgical strikes” on a terrorist stronghold on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control. Pakistan continues to deny that version of events.
The war of words, along with the violence, has continued since. On Friday, India’s Border Security Forceclaimed that it killed seven Pakistani soldiers as retaliation for sniper fire that resulted in the loss of life of one of its own fighters. Again Pakistan denied the claim, alleging that the firing was unprovoked and had not struck any of its soldiers.
India has long accused Pakistan of sponsoring terrorists. Pakistan, meanwhile, has said that India’s claims about terrorism are part of a campaign to distract attention from its “atrocities” in Kashmir.
There is also significant dispute over the border conflict within Pakistan. On Monday, chairman of the opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Kahn, accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of using the dispute for his own political means and of being “the biggest security threat” in the country.
"Whenever there is pressure on Nawaz Sharif, the Line of Control becomes heated,” Kahn, a former Pakistan cricket hero said Sunday.