India, Pakistan trade fire in Kashmir; 1 dead

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SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire Wednesday near the border that divides the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, leaving one dead on the Indian side and two wounded on the Pakistani side, officials said.

One side blamed the other for initiating the shooting.

A senior officer with India's Border Security Force, D. Parekh, said Pakistani troops fired on an 11-member Indian patrol team and Indian soldiers retaliated. The gunbattle was ongoing late Wednesday, he said, adding that another Indian soldier was wounded.

Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan. The two countries have fought two wars over control of the Himalayan region since they won independence from Britain in 1947.

Pakistan blamed India for the most recent incident. The Pakistan Rangers Punjab, who patrol the eastern border with India and the disputed boundaries, said in a statement that a commander from the Indian side had requested a meeting and when two representatives from the Rangers contacted them, the Indians opened fire. Two Rangers were seriously wounded, the statement said.

India's army said there have been more than 550 violations of a cease-fire by Pakistan troops this year, the most since the two nations signed the accord in 2003.

While minor skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani troops have been common over the years, the worst violation of the cease-fire accord took place in October over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and left nine civilians dead in Pakistan and nine in India.

Tens of thousands of civilians on both sides fled their homes when the October violence erupted along the 200-kilometer (125-mile) border between Pakistan's Punjab province and the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir.

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