Pakistan border quiet but Kashmir tense amid militancy crackdown

Pakistan border quiet but Kashmir tense amid militancy crackdown

Indian and Pakistani soldiers again targeted each other's posts and villages along their volatile frontier in disputed Kashmir, killing at least six civilians and two Pakistani troops, officials said yesterday.

A senior police official confirmed that The battle erupted Friday evening and kept going for many hours in frontier Poonch district, about 180 km southwest of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir. The official said two members of the state police department also were killed.

The pilot's capture had become the centrepiece of hostilities between the arch-rivals since a suicide bombing in Kashmir last month killed 40 Indian paramilitaries.

Pakistan and India both carried out aerial bombing missions last week, and on Wednesday an Indian pilot was shot down over the disputed region of Kashmir in an incident that sparked fears of a full-blown war.

It marked the first fatalities for Pakistani troops since Wednesday, when tensions dramatically escalated between the nuclear-armed neighbors over Kashmir, which is split between them but claimed by both in its entirety. Indian security forces said they were carrying out mjor anti-militancy operations on their side of Kashmir and had shot dead two militants.

During the incident over Kashmir earlier this week, Varthaman reportedly destroyed one Pakistani F-16 fighter jet while piloting his MiG-21.

The Indian Prime Minister's statement is being taken as his admission of superiority of Pakistan Air Force, which recently shot down two of Indian warplanes and captured a pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan, who was later released by Prime Minister Imran Khan in a peace gesture.

Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj addressed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) session in Abu Dhabi on Friday and censured countries harboring terrorists on their soil, without naming Pakistan. Islamabad denied any such camps existed, as did local villagers in the area when Reuters visited.

She says people living on both sides of Kashmir often miss funerals and weddings of their dear ones because of tension between Pakistan and India.

A top Indian minister, meanwhile, said on Saturday the government would not share proof that "a very large number" of militants were killed in air strikes inside Pakistan this week.

Jaitley dismissed suggestions that the rapid escalation in tensions with Pakistan had anything to do with India's domestic politics ahead of a general election due by May.

In the heavily edited video distributed by the Pakistani military just before his release, he praised the professionalism of the Pakistani army and criticised Indian media for creating war hysteria. We are at the mercy of these soldiers, " said Mohammed Akram, a resident in Mendhar area in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Mohammad Latif, a laborer who is taking refuge at a government building vacated for sheltering displaced families, says, "Whenever India fire mortars, it's we who suffer".

"I want to emphasize that we did not receive a formal offer of mediation". The countries have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. "He is our friend and we have historical relations with them (Saudi Arabia)", Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters.

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