Nine Civilians and Soldiers Killed as India and Pakistan Exchange Fire in Kashmir

A Kashmiri woman walks past paramilitary soldiers standing guard near the site of a gunbattle in Bijbehara, south of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Indian police officer Parvaiz Ahmed said Indian security forces killed three militants in an exchange of gunfire in southern Kashmir, following intelligence that a group of militants was hiding in Bijbehara town. Indian-administered Kashmir has experienced unrest and sporadic anti-government protests since New Delhi revoked its special status. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

India and Pakistan exchanged fire across the line dividing the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on Saturday and Sunday, killing nine civilians and soldiers, according to authorities in both countries.

It was one of the deadliest sequences this year at the Line of Control, the highly militarized frontier where soldiers from the two countries regularly trade small-arms and artillery fire.

The barrage came amid increased tension between the nuclear-armed rivals.

In August, India withdrew Kashmir’s semiautonomous status, shut down communications in the region and detained thousands of people. The moves incensed Pakistan, which considers itself the defender of Kashmiri Muslims.

India accuses Pakistan of stoking a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir by sending fighters and arms across the Line of Control. Pakistan denies the accusations.

Five civilians and one soldier were killed on Pakistan’s side of the Line of Control, a spokesman for the Pakistani army said Sunday. Two Indian soldiers and one civilian were also killed, a spokesman for the Indian Defense Ministry said.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Joanna Slater

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