An exchange of gunfire between soldiers from India and Pakistan near the disputed border in the Himalayan region of Kashmir early Tuesday claimed the lives of three civilians, authorities reportedly said. Two Pakistanis and an Indian villager were reportedly killed in the incident.
Six civilians were wounded in the Bajwat sector near Sialkot, a city in the eastern Punjab province of Pakistan, while four Indian civilians were also reportedly injured in the firing and mortar shelling. Pakistani authorities reportedly claimed that they fired in response to India’s “unprovoked” action. However, an official with India's Border Security Force (BSF) said India “retaliated” to firing from Pakistani troops, according to the Associated Press.
“Pakistani Rangers resorted to firing of small arms and mortar shells on BOPs (border outposts) along IB (International Border) in Kanachak and Pargwal sectors of Jammu district from 0540 hours," a BSF spokesman said, according to local reports.
The firing took place moments after two people, suspected to be terrorists, were spotted along the international border, BSF officials said, according to NDTV, a local news network.
“Two terrorists were seen moving suspiciously during the night and again observed in the wee hours opposite Kanachak area in Jammu district,” a BSF officer reportedly said.
Pakistani and Indian troops deployed along the Kashmir border often exchange fire, and Indian authorities reportedly said that this was the second ceasefire violation by Pakistan in less than 48 hours. According to local reports, there have been 19 ceasefire violations along the India-Pakistan border in July, killing four people, including three military personnel, and injuring 14 others.