6 killed as Indian, Pakistan soldiers trade fire in Kashmir

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SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Four Pakistani soldiers, one Indian soldier and a child were killed Monday as Indian and Pakistani troops traded fire across a cease-fire line dividing the troubled Kashmir region between the two countries, officials said.

Indian army spokesman Lt. Col. Manish Mehta said Pakistani troops fired mortar shells and automatic weapons into the Rajouri sector of Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday morning. A mortar shell landed on a bunker, wounding a soldier who later died at a hospital, he said.

Mehta called the Pakistani firing an unprovoked violation of a 2003 cease-fire between the neighbors and said Indian troops returned fire.

In Islamabad, the director general of military operations, Maj. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza, accused Indian soldiers of attacking a Pakistani army vehicle, killing four soldiers.

Three civilians, two on the Indian side and one on the Pakistani-controlled part of the Himalayan region, were also reported injured.

Senior Indian police officer S.P. Vaid said in the Poonch area, near Rajouri, an 8-year-old girl was killed and her mother was wounded when a shell landed on their house.

Recent violence in the region has affected at least 5,000 civilians on the Indian side who have homes in the area, according to local civil administrator Shahid Iqbal.

Iqbal said all schools in the Poonch area have been closed and at least 120 students were evacuated from one school in armored vehicles after several shells landed nearby.

Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan but is claimed by both in its entirety. The nuclear-armed rivals have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.

The two armies often blame each other for initiating firing across the cease-fire line.

Insurgents have been fighting for Indian-controlled Kashmir's independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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