Islamabad – Pakistani officials said Indian troops fired at a passenger bus on the Pakistani side of the disputed Kashmir region on Wednesday, killing nine civilians, amid rising tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
A mortar shell hit the bus in Luwat village at the Line of Control (LoC), a de facto frontier that divides Kashmir between the two countries, Pakistani police official Ibrar Ahmed told dpa.
At least 11 passengers were wounded, a statement by the military said, adding that exchanges of fire at other points continued for several hours.
On Tuesday, the Indian Army said that three of its soldiers were killed in fighting along the LoC. The body of one soldier was mutilated.
Pakistan denied involvement, but New Delhi warned Islamabad of retaliation.
An Indian army soldier takes up his position near the Line of Control during hostilities between Pakistan and India in September. Pakistani officials said on Wednesday that Indian troops had fired at a passenger bus on the Pakistani side of the disputed Kashmir region, killing nine civilians. Javed Dar/Xinhua via ZUMA Wire (ARCHIVE)
Indian military sources in Kashmir told dpa that troops had been firing mortar shells at Pakistani border posts in retaliation for the soldiers’ deaths, but did not say that a bus was targeted.
“We have no information of civilian casualties on the Pakistan side,” an Indian official said, adding that “we want to give a message that mutilation is not acceptable.”
Tensions between the South Asian rivals have been high since militants killed 19 Indian troops in September in Kashmir.
India blamed the attack on a jihadist group allegedly operating from Pakistan but Islamabad denies the change.
Nearly 50 Pakistani civilians and soldiers have been killed in clashes at the border with Indian troops this year so far, according to the Pakistani Foreign Ministry.
Both sides accuse each other of violating a 2003 ceasefire accord.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since they gained independence from the British in 1947. Two of them were over Kashmir.