Kashmir border clashes leave seven civilians dead

Fire exchange between Pakistani and Indian troops claimed 7 lives and injured at least 20 others in Indian-held Kashmir

Heavy shelling and gunfire between India and Pakistan has left 7 civilians dead and injured more than 20 others in disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir since Saturday.

The gunfire erupted on Saturday as India was celebrating its independence day and it is still continuing in Mandi and Balakot sectors of Poonch district on Sunday, Defence Ministry spokesperson Lt Col Manish Mehta said.

“The firing started at 3am and is still on. Our troops retaliated appropriately to the firing,” Mehta said.

Following the incident, six civilians lost their lives, including a 10 year-old child and 20 others were wounded on Saturday at several civilian areas along the Line of Control (LOC) located between India and Pakistan.

Helicopters from the Indian Army were dispatched to the area and airlifted the wounded people to the government medical college hospital in Jammu city, according to the officials.

In Poonch district of Indian-held Kashmir , a woman was killed after being hit with splinters of mortar shells at 7am on Sunday, a senior police official said.

Both countries blamed each other for the escalating violence on Saturday. The tension have remained high between two countries along the Line of Control for almost a week.

There has been no evacuation announcement for residents who live near the firing line along the LoC in Poonch district, but officials from the district advised them to stay in their homes.

The conflict between Pakistan and India has been on-going in the disputed territory of Kashmir since 1989. Muslim residents in the Indian-held portion demand independence or a merger with Pakistan, which holds the western part of it.

The dispute has left over 68,000 people dead over 26 years, as well as two wars have broken out between the two countries over the territory.

TRTWorld and agencies