Kashmir border violence kills nine
Srinagar (India) (AFP)
At least nine people including four Pakistani soldiers were killed in fighting in disputed Kashmir on Monday, India and Pakistan said.
The Pakistani army said four of its soldiers and three Indian troops had been killed in an exchange of fire across the heavily militarised de-facto border known as the Line of Control (LoC).
India denied it suffered any casualties, but said its soldiers had killed five "militants" who attempted to cross the LoC in a separate incident in Uri, 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of the main city of Srinagar.
India frequently accuses Pakistan of sending fighters across the LoC to launch attacks on its soldiers in Kashmir, which has been divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbours since partition in 1947.
"During the night a group of infiltrating militants were challenged by the army, triggering a fierce exchange of fire in which five militants were killed," superintendent of Indian police Imtiyaz Hussain told AFP.
Hussain said the militants appeared to be from Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a Pakistan-based militant group that police say has recently stepped up its activities in the volatile territory.
It has been blamed for a series of audacious attacks inside Indian-administered Kashmir in recent weeks including one on New Year's Eve in which four paramilitary troops were killed.
The latest violence comes in the wake of the deadliest year in a decade in Indian Kashmir, where the army killed at least 200 militants, decimating the rebel leadership.
Scores of civilians were also killed in last year's violence.
India has about 500,000 troops in the Himalayan territory, which is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan.
On Monday India's army chief Bipin Rawat warned the force would react strongly to any aggression from Pakistan.
"Pakistan Army has been continuously trying to help terrorists sneak into India along LoC," he told soldiers in a speech.
"We are using our might to teach them a lesson."
Islamabad denies allegations that it arms and trains militants to launch attacks on Indian forces, saying it only provides diplomatic support to the Kashmiri struggle for right to self-determination.
Opposition to Indian rule intensified in the mainly Muslim territory in 2016 after the slaying of popular rebel leader Burhan Wani.
More than 100 civilians died in clashes with government forces that year during months of protests against India.
© 2018 AFP