Woman killed in India-Pakistan border skirmish in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Wednesday, killing a woman and wounding at least four other people on the Indian-controlled side, officials said. Pakistan's army said it shot down an Indian done.

D. Parekh, a senior officer with India's Border Security Force, said Pakistani soldiers first fired at a paramilitary soldier guarding a border post in the Pargwal area. As troops tried to evacuate the seriously injured soldier, they came under heavy fire and retaliated, he said.

Pakistani troops also fired mortar shells, and one woman was killed and three other civilians injured when one of the shells exploded near a border village, Parekh said, calling it "a blatant, unprovoked cease-fire violation by Pakistan."

Pakistan, however, accused India of resorting to "unprovoked firing" in the incident, which took place near the city of Sialkot.

The Pakistan Rangers, a border security paramilitary force, said in a statement that border guards "befittingly" responded to the Indian firing.

Both sides said the skirmishes were continuing as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Also Wednesday, Pakistan's military said it shot down an Indian spy drone which intruded into the Pakistan-held portion of Kashmir. In a statement, the military said troops downed the drone in the Bhimber sector. It said such drones are used to take photographs.

The Indian military rejected the Pakistani claim.

No spy drone from our side "has crossed into the Pakistani side and none of our unmanned aerial vehicles has been shot down by them," said Col. S.D. Goswami, an Indian army spokesman.

Indian and Pakistani troops often exchange fire along the de facto border in Kashmir, with both sides routinely blaming the other for initiating the violence. Last week, India said two of its paramilitary soldiers were killed by Pakistani fire in separate incidents.

Wednesday's incidents came days after the prime ministers of the two countries met on the sidelines of a summit in the Russian city of Ufa in an effort to ease tensions.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over their competing claims to Kashmir, which is divided between the two rivals. A 2003 cease-fire has largely held despite small but regular skirmishes.


Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.