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India, Pakistan intensify cross-border firing as ties sour


SRINAGAR: Indian and Pakistani troops intensified firing across the border over the weekend killing at least four, an Indian official said on Sunday, straining ties between the archrivals who recently called off top-level diplomatic talks.Last week India said its foreign secretary would not meet with her Pakistani counterpart as scheduled on Monday because of plans by Pakistan to consult separatists from the border state of Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the meeting. The cancellation dashed any hopes of near-term peace deliberations, chances of which had risen after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the inauguration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about three months ago.
According to India’s Defence Ministry, there have been 70 ceasefire violations by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir since Modi took over.
“Pakistani troops violated ceasefire again today and restored to heavy firing targeting 22 Border Security Force (BSF) posts,” BSF Inspector General for Jammu frontier, Rakesh Sharma, told Reuters.
Sharma said two people were killed on Saturday and four were injured, including a BSF man. “We gave them befitting reply causing equal casualties on their side,” he said.
The Pakistan Army’s press office did not reply to calls seeking comment. But Pakistani military sources said on Saturday night that in July and August India’s BSF had committed 23 ceasefire violations by resorting to unprovoked firing. Pakistani media reported on Sunday that three people were killed and 11 injured in “unprovoked firing” by Indian troops. BSF says Pakistani troops are firing to give cover to the militants for infiltration into Indian territory. A senior Indian army officer said that they have foiled 15 infiltration attempts this month in which 10 militants and two Indian soldiers were killed. The latest firing has forced 1,000 border residents to flee to safer locations, a senior Indian-held Kashmir bureaucrat said. 

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