Indian soldier killed in Kashmir border firing

SRINAGAR: An Indian soldier was killed on Monday in cross-border firing in Kashmir, the latest in a spurt of violence in the disputed region that has raised tensions with Pakistan, officials said.

The incident comes two days after India said rockets were fired from Pakistani territory. At least seven militants have been killed in separate gun battles, and multiple infiltration attempts foiled by troops in the last week, police say.

Monday’s incident was the first time in six months that an Indian soldier has been killed in border firing.

“There was an unprovoked firing from across the border in Poonch area, we lost one BSF (Border Security Force) jawan (soldier),” Vinod Sharma, a spokesman for the border guards said.

India accuses Pakistani troops of cross-border firing to help militants cross the disputed border to join the 20-year revolt in Kashmir and violate a 2003 agreement reached between the two armies. Islamabad denies the charge.

Indian police and security experts say violence may go up in Kashmir because hundreds of Pakistan-based militants may have sneaked into India in the past few months.

“It is a desperate attempt by Pakistan to create trouble in Kashmir as India is cutting troops and the general feeling is the situation is getting more and more normal in Kashmir,” said Naresh Chandra, a former Indian envoy to Washington.

India said last month that it is gradually cutting around 30,000 troops in Kashmir and handing over law and order to police as incidents of violence have gone down.

Officials say tens of thousands of people have been killed since a revolt against Indian rule broke out in 1989.

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