The Indian and Pakistani armed forces have clashed repeatedly in recent days amid strong tensions over last week’s anti-terrorist operation by Indian aircraft over Pakistani territory in Kashmir.
The Indian Army has accused Pakistani forces of violating the fragile ceasefire along multiple points at the Line of Control border between the two countries in the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Ceasefire violation by Pakistan along LoC in Shahpur and Kerni Sectors in Poonch today. From 18:00 hours (Indian Standard Time) onwards, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by heavy shelling with artillery and small arms fire,” the Army said in a statement Friday.
A police officer in the town of Poonch said an Indian special police officer had been injured in the shelling and taken to local hospital for treatment.
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Tensions along the LoC, which serves as the de facto border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, have been high since last week’s Indian Air Force operation to destroy the base of an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group which claimed responsibility for a deadly terror attack against Indian troops last month.
On Wednesday, sources in the Indian security establishment accused Pakistan of mobilizing additional troops and weaponry along the highly militarised border region, with the Army warning that any provocation would lead to “dire consequences.”
The two sides have also accused one another of targeting civilians in the recent back and forth clashes along the border.
Earlier this week, hopes for a diplomatic reset emerged amid a “relatively calm” situation along the LoC, with each country making statements urging restraint against the backdrop of next week’s meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials in New Delhi, and a followup visit by Indian officials to Islamabad on March 28, to discuss a draft agreement on the Kartarpur Corridor, a proposed border agreement which is hoped to serve as an olive branch to calm tensions between the nuclear neighbors.
Tensions between India and Pakistan were heightened last month after a terrorist car bombing in the Indian-controlled area of Kashmir killed over 40 Indian policemen. Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terrorist group affiliated to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. India accused Pakistan of inaction against terrorism, and conducted airstrikes against a JeM training camp inside Pakistani territory on February 26. Islamabad blasted the assault, calling it a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and denied New Delhi’s claims that it wasn’t doing enough to fight terror.
The terrorist attack and airstrikes have since led to further incidents, including dogfights between Indian and Pakistani warplanes in which at least one Indian MiG-21 and a Pakistani F-16 were reportedly destroyed, and multiple skirmishes along the Line of Control between Indian and Pakistani troops which killed and injured multiple troops and well over a dozen civilians on both sides.
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