Exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani security forces over the Line of Control, claims the lives of a man and his two pre-teen children in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and a 24-year-old woman in India-administered Kashmir.

Residents use mobiles phones in Srinagar on October 14, 2019, following New Delhi's decision to partially restore mobile phones network in India-administered Kashmir.
Residents use mobiles phones in Srinagar on October 14, 2019, following New Delhi's decision to partially restore mobile phones network in India-administered Kashmir. (AFP)

Text messaging services were blocked in India-administered Kashmir just hours after being restored when a truck driver was killed by suspected militants and his vehicle set ablaze, authorities said Tuesday.

Separately, Pakistani officials said three people – a father and his two children aged 10 and 11 – were killed in Pakistan-administered district next to the Line of Control after mortar shells hit their homes during the latest exchange of artillery fire with India over their de-facto border dividing the blood-soaked Himalayan region.

A 24-year-old woman died during the exchange of fire on the Indian side, officials said.

Indian security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate.

Authorities had partially restored call and text services for mobile phones on Monday, following a 72-day blackout in the restive northern territory imposed after New Delhi scrapped the region's historical semi-autonomous status.

The seven million-plus people of the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley – the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule – are still cut off from the internet, however.

Authorities said SMS services were cut again on Monday night following the attack on the driver of a truck carrying apples in Shopian.

Residents said two masked gunmen told the driver to use his truck to block the road, but it skidded and got stuck.

"The gunmen then fired at the truck and set it on fire," a witness told AFP.

Apples are a sensitive issue in Kashmir, which exports vast quantities of the fruit to markets across India.

Many orchard owners say they are refusing to harvest this year to protest against the New Delhi's move to scrap Kashmir's constitutional autonomy.

Indian authorities say that militants – backed by arch-rival Pakistan – have been intimidating farmers and businessmen.

Pakistan has long said it only provides moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.

The latest death from exchange of fire over the Line of Control dividing Kashmir brings the number of fatalities on the Indian side to three in the past four days, the Press Trust of India reported.

Two Indian soldiers were killed in two separate incidents on Friday and Sunday, PTI said.

Also on Tuesday, police arrested 13 women activists in Srinagar after they staged a protest calling for civil liberties and the release of detainees.

The women, wearing black armbands, were arrested for "breaching the peace" and for contravening a ban in place since early August on public gatherings of more than four people, police said.

They included the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, one of several hundred local politicians, lawyers and others in custody since early August, mostly without charge.

Abdullah, 81, was formally arrested in mid-September under the highly contentious Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows someone to be held for up to two years without charge, and which has been used widely in Kashmir in recent years.

Kashmir conflict

Kashmir, the world's most-militarised region, is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the region in its entirety. China also controls a silver of the territory.

Two of the three wars between the nuclear-armed neighbours have been fought since their independence from British rule were over Kashmir.

Over a dozen rebel groups are fighting nearly 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed by New Delhi in the region since 1989.

Most Kashmiris support the rebels' demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street demonstrations against Indian control.

About 100,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies