Civilians killed as India, Pakistan exchange shelling across Kashmir LoC

Chen Zhuo

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir/ISLAMABAD, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Three civilians were killed while three others wounded in cross-border shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops on Line of Control (LoC) dividing the disputed Kashmir region, Indian police said Saturday.

The skirmish broke out Friday evening and continued for several hours in frontier Poonch district, about 180 km southwest of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, according to a senior police official posted in Poonch.

The heavy shelling triggered panic in nearby villages, according to locals.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani army said Saturday that two civilians were killed and two others injured along the LoC in the past 24 hours.

An army statement said Indian troops undertook to fire along the LoC in Hotspring, Tatta Pani and Jandrot Sectors where India also "deliberately targeted civil population."

"Pakistan Army troops gave a befitting response by targeting Indian posts," the statement from the army's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations said, adding Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy "continue to be alert and vigilant."

Tensions escalated between Islamabad and New Delhi following a suicide attack on Indian security personnel in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Feb. 14, which killed over 40 paramilitary troopers.

On Tuesday India claimed its warplanes struck a camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group in northwest Pakistan, which is blamed by New Delhi for the deadly attack.

In what to be seen a tit-for-tat action, Pakistan army said its air force bombed Indian targets in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

On Wednesday, Pakistan army said it shot down two Indian fighter jets along the LoC and captured an Indian pilot.

The pilot was released and handed over to Indian authorities late Friday.

The international community is making efforts to defuse tensions between the two neighbors.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has offered dialogue to the Indian government over the ongoing tense situation.

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