Kashmir border: Pakistani girl dies 'in India firing'

Image source, AFP
Image caption, Both sides accuse each other of incursions across the Line of Control

A nine-year-old girl has been killed and three people wounded in prolonged and unprovoked mortar shelling by Indian troops, officials in Pakistani-administered Kashmir have said.

The alleged incident took place as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was visiting Muzaffarabad, the territory's capital.

There has been no response from India to the Pakistani allegations.

Claimed by both countries, Kashmir has been a flashpoint for over 60 years.

Earlier this month India's military accused the Pakistani army of shooting dead an Indian officer in "unprovoked firing" in its part of the disputed territory.

A more serious confrontation along the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir took place in January and nearly derailed the two countries' fledgling peace process.

Light machine guns

In the latest incident, officials in Pakistani-administered Kashmir say Indian troops began shelling the civilian population in Batal sector, in the southern district of Rawalakot, for five hours from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning.

The BBC's Zulfiqar Ali in Islamabad says in the past, Pakistani and Kashmiri militants have infiltrated into Indian-administered Kashmir from this area.

Rawalakot Deputy Commissioner Sohail Azam told the BBC that Indian soldiers used mortars and light machine-guns.

He said the girl was killed and her mother wounded when shells hit their home.

Mr Azam said that an elderly woman was injured in Indian firing in the same area on Tuesday.

In January skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani troops in the Batal sector sector left three Pakistani and two Indian soldiers dead - plunging the neighbours into the worst crisis in relations in years.

There were fears that peace negotiations under way since February last year could unravel.

Although both sides denied provoking the clashes, they eventually agreed to de-escalate tensions.

The firing on 7 June was the first ceasefire violation since new Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif took office. Mr Sharif has said better relations with India are a priority for his government.

India and Pakistan agreed a ceasefire along the Line of Control which divides the disputed region in November 2003.

But each country has blamed the other for occasional cross-border firing in which soldiers and civilians have been killed or wounded.

Thousands of people have been killed in Indian-administered Kashmir since an armed revolt against Indian rule erupted in 1989.

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