World

India-Pakistan fighting kills 2 Pakistani troops

Gunfire exchanged near dividing line in Kashmir, Pakistan air force and navy on alert

Posted: March 02, 2019
Last Updated: March 02, 2019

Supporters of the pro-Indian political party People's Democratic Party (PDP) shout slogans during a protest in Srinagar on Saturday, against the Jamaat-e-Islami ban. Indian authorities banned the Kashmiri socio-religious organisation Jamaat-e-Islami days after arresting scores of its members in a massive crackdown. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan's military says two of its soldiers have been killed in an exchange of fire with Indian forces near the Line of Control that separates the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir between the rivals.

It marked the first fatalities for Pakistani troops since Wednesday, when tensions dramatically escalated between the nuclear-armed neighbours over Kashmir, which is split between them but claimed by both in its entirety.

Pakistan's army said in a statement Saturday that the soldiers were killed in the Nakiyal region of Kashmir in the past 24 hours. It said there were reports of troop casualties on the Indian side.

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Since overnight Friday, a total of at least six civilians have been killed on both sides of Kashmir.

Officials said two siblings and their mother were among those killed in cross-border shelling. The three died overnight after a shell fired by Pakistani soldiers hit their home in Poonch region near the Line of Control, police said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have been running high since Indian aircraft launched a strike in Pakistan on Tuesday in response to a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 troops.

Pakistan's military said on Saturday its air force and navy "continue to be alert and vigilant." India's military said on Saturday that Pakistan was firing mortar shells across the  militarized line.

A family member of a Pakistani prisoner Shakir Ullah, who was killed by Indian inmates in an Indian jail, sits next to his body in an ambulance arriving from India at Pakistani-India border post Wagah, near Lahore, Pakistan on Saturday. The attack was apparently in retaliation for the Dec. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers. (K.M. Chaudary/Associated Press)

Also on Saturday, India handed over the body of a Pakistani prisoner who was beaten to death by inmates at an Indian jail last month, apparently in retaliation for the Feb. 14 bombing. It was unclear on what charges Shakir Ullah had been held at the jail.

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Border guards received Ullah's body at the same Wagah border crossing in the eastern city of Lahore from where an Indian pilot was handed over to Indian officials on Friday.

The pilot was captured this past week after a MiG-21 fighter jet was shot down by the Pakistani military last Wednesday.

With files from Reuters