India: Pakistan firing kills 4 soldiers in Kashmir

Indian army soldiers guard during a gunbattle at Pakharpore village, south of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. (File Photo: Mukhtar Khan/AP)
Updated 13 June 2018
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India: Pakistan firing kills 4 soldiers in Kashmir

  • Pakistan denied initiating the firing, saying its soldiers only responded to the Indian “unprovoked” firing
  • Indian border guards said Pakistani soldiers first targeted a soldier around midnight by a sniper fire as the Indian soldiers patrolled a border area in the Jammu region

SRINAGAR, India: Indian and Pakistani forces fired along the highly militarized frontier in disputed Kashmir early Wednesday after Pakistani firing killed at least four Indian paramilitary soldiers and injured three others on border patrol, Indian officials said.
Pakistan denied initiating the firing, saying its soldiers only responded to the Indian “unprovoked” firing. Islamabad also summoned an Indian diplomat to protest a civilian’s killing.
The nuclear-armed nations had recently agreed to stop trading fire along the volatile frontier and uphold a cease-fire accord dating back 15 years.
Indian border guards said Pakistani soldiers first targeted a soldier around midnight by a sniper fire as the Indian soldiers patrolled a border area in the Jammu region.
As other soldiers tried to rescue their fallen comrade, Pakistani soldiers fired volley of gunfire at them, triggering exchange of gunfire, two border officials said. The two, who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with border guards policy, said three soldiers were killed on the spot while the other died later while being evacuated.
They said Indian soldiers retaliated, and the cross border firing stopped early Wednesday.
In Islamabad, two security officials said Pakistani troops only returned fire after coming under unprovoked fire from the Indian border guards.
The officials said India troops also targeted a village in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday, killing a villager who was grazing cattle in a field near his home. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
Pakistan summoned an Indian diplomat to protest the “unprovoked cease-fire violation” that killed a civilian. The foreign ministry said in a statement that the “deliberate targeting of civilian-populated areas was deplorable” and that cease-fire violations threatened peace and security.
In May, Indian and Pakistani commanders of military operations talked by phone and agreed to defuse tensions in Kashmir. They also agreed to use existing mechanisms of hotline contacts and border flag meetings at local commander’s level to resolve the issues.
Early June, the local border guards’ commanders on the two sides met along the frontier and reiterated to stop deadly hostilities.
But the fighting has not stopped.
Tensions have soared in recent months, as both sides have shelled border posts and villages, causing fatalities of soldiers and civilians on both sides. Tens of thousands of villagers have fled homes in dozens of affected villages along the frontier on both sides.
In the past, each side has accused the other of starting the hostilities in violation of the 2003 accord.
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir, which both claim. They have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over their competing claims to the region.
This year, soldiers from the two nations have engaged in fierce border skirmishes along the rugged and mountainous Line of Control, as well as a lower-altitude 200-kilometer (125-mile) boundary separating Indian-controlled Kashmir and the Pakistani province of Punjab, where most of the latest fighting has taken place. This somewhat-defined portion, which India refers as “International Border” and Pakistan calls “Working Boundary,” is marked by coils of razor wire, watch towers and bunkers that snake across foothills marked by ancient villages, tangled bushes and fields of rice and corn.
The fighting has become a predictable cycle of violence as the region convulses with decades-old animosities over Kashmir, where rebel groups demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training anti-India rebels and also helping them by providing gunfire as cover for incursions into the Indian side.
Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to the militants and to Kashmiris who oppose Indian rule.
Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.


Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany

Updated 5 min 2 sec ago
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Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany

BERLIN: Twenty-five people were injured, four of them severely, when an explosion destroyed an apartment building in the western German city of Wuppertal, police said Sunday.
Police said the explosion rocked the several-story building shortly before midnight Saturday with a large bang, scaring people in surrounding homes so much they ran out into the street in a panic. The detonation was so severe it destroyed the building’s attic and the top three floors, the German news agency dpa reported.
Fire then broke out in several different parts of the apartment building and firefighters had trouble dousing the flames because parts of the building kept collapsing. They were able to rescue four severely injured from inside the building and sent them to the hospital. Another 21 people were slightly injured and treated by emergency staff at the scene.
Police said Sunday they were still trying to get the fire under control and were investigating the cause of the explosion. They would not comment when asked if the explosion could possibly be terror-related.
A car nearby was destroyed, buried under window frames that were blown onto it by the impact of the explosion. Emergency personnel on Sunday picked up bricks and furniture on the street from the explosion.
Some of the building’s roof beams stood black and eerie in the smoke as police scoured accessible parts of the building for further people trapped inside before giving the all-clear.
The place where the building stood is now a huge gap in a row of apartment buildings in the city’s Langerfeld neighborhood.