Pakistan, Indian troops battle on Kashmir border

Indian officials accused the Pakistan Army of firing heavy machine guns and volleys of mortars at three Indian posts in Poonch district in the Jammu region, forcing the Indians to retaliate.

The firing took place at Kranti, Ghoda and Kirpan posts in Mendhar area in Poonch, 230 km from Jammu, the winter capital of the state. "The firing started around 12.30 a.m. and lasted for more than three hours," an army source told IANS. "The Indian side retaliated," the source added.

Officials said no one was injured on the Indian state despite the intensity of the gun battles and mortar firing. The Indian Army is expected to take up the matter with its Pakistani counterparts.

Although there have been recurring instances of ceasefire violations, always blamed by India on the Pakistanis, the Thursday battle was intense because of the use of mortars.

Indian sources say there is a clear attempt by Pakistan to raise the temperatures on the LoC, which divides disputed Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries, at time of massive street protests and civilian deaths in the Kashmir Valley.

The military wants the army headquarters in New Delhi to take up the matter at the highest level with Pakistan. The ceasefire on LoC came into force in November 2003 when the Indian and Pakistani armies agreed to put an end to daily exchanges of fire on both the LoC and the international border. 

The ceasefire has mostly held, giving much needed respite to both the armies. India and Pakistan have fought three major wars, mostly over Jammu and Kashmir. While Islamabad holds the northern third of the Himalayan state, New Delhi controls the southern two-third.

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