Two Indian soldiers gunned down on Kashmir border


5th September 1997

SRINAGAR: Two Indian soldiers were killed and two others injured in renewed cross-border artillery firing by Pakistani troops in Kashmir, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

He said the incident took place on Thursday evening in Naugaum area, about 50 miles north of Srinagar between the Uri and Kupwara sectors.

In Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-ruled Azad (free) Kashmir, official sources said one man was killed and three wounded by Indian shelling on Thursday. The Indian troops opened fire with artillery on Ghosla village of Leepa valley, the sources said.

At least 15 people have been killed in the divided region in the past two weeks.

"In heavy, unprovoked artillery and heavy mortar firing, two of our soldiers died, and one officer and one soldier were injured," defence spokesman Sunil Kapoor told Reuters in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir state, Srinagar. "In retaliation, we have have destroyed 18 bunkers completely and 19 partially," Kapoor said, adding the retaliation took place on Friday morning.

In late August, Indian officials said troops had destroyed about three dozen Pakistani bunkers and killed up to 70 troops across the line of control dividing the Himalayan region. But Pakistani officials and diplomats dismissed the casualty figures. To date, the two sides have confirmed 15 dead.

Diplomats said cross-border firing often picks up at this time of the year when each side tries to move supplies, often on mule-back, to remote sentry posts along the mountainous border. The surge in cross-border firing has raised questions about whether senior officials would hold the third round of bilateral peace talks as scheduled in New Delhi this month. Indian officials have said they are keen to go ahead with the talks, and diplomats said the negotiations were expected to take place despite the cross-border firing.

India, which rules two-thirds of Kashmir, says Pakistan trains and arms separatist guerrillas fighting New Delhi's rule.Pakistan, which controls the remaining part, denies the charge and says it offers only political and diplomatic support.


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