Indian and Pakistani troops regularly exchange fire across the mountainous border, but the shelling on Friday was particularly intense, according to Indian officials.

Security personnel patrol on the banks of the Dal Lake amid dense fog in Srinagar on November 12, 2020.
Security personnel patrol on the banks of the Dal Lake amid dense fog in Srinagar on November 12, 2020. (AFP)

At least 10 civilians and five security personnel were killed in cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan, in one of this year's deadliest days along the heavily militarised frontier separating the nuclear-armed rivals, officials have said.

Indian officials said the barrage of mortars and other weapons along several parts of the Line of Control - the de-facto border - began after Indian troops foiled an infiltration attempt from Pakistan in northern Kashmir.

Pakistan's military said in a statement it had responded to unprovoked and indiscriminate firing by the Indian army.

Indian officials said six civilians, three soldiers and a border guard were killed on their side. The Pakistan military said four civilians and one soldier were killed on the Pakistani side.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full. Each rules part of the region, with New Delhi long accusing its neighbour of fuelling an insurgency, which Pakistan denies.

Indian and Pakistani troops regularly exchange fire across the mountainous border, but the shelling on Friday was particularly intense, according to Indian officials.

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Accusations over firing at civilian areas

Both sides also accused the other of firing at civilian areas.

"As usual they targeted civilian populations without any remorse," said Syed Shahid Qadri, a government official in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, where a woman was among the dead and 27 others were injured.

Across the border in India-ruled Kashmir, officials said an 8-year-old child was among those killed in the shelling that started in the morning and continued late into the evening.

Mukhtar Ahmad, a resident of Uri in Indian Kashmir said there was panic in the hillside town after loud explosions were heard from areas closer to the de facto border.

"Several families have fled the area and taken shelter in Uri town," he said.

More than 40 civilians have been killed in firing between Indian and Pakistani troops this year, according to official data, with both sides suffering similar fatalities.

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Ceasefire violations: Pakistan

In a statement released by the Pakistani military's media wing the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) early on Friday described the cross-border shelling as the latest unprovoked incident of ceasefire violations by India and added that Pakistani troops responded by targeting the Indian posts.

Authorities said the exchange of fire between Pakistani and Indian forces in Kashmir started on Thursday and continued overnight.

India often accuses Pakistan of initiating the clashes in Kashmir, which is split between both countries and claimed by both in its entirety.

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The Line of Control is the de-facto border between the two sides in Kashmir that was established in 1948, a few months after both India and Pakistan gained independence from British colonial powers Both sides have fought two of their three wars over the Muslim majority region since 1947.

The latest development comes a day after Pakistan summoned an Indian diplomat to lodge a protest over this week's alleged Indian violation of a 2003 ceasefire agreement. Two civilians were wounded on the Pakistani side of the border in that exchange of fire.

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Tensions between the two countries soared in February 2019, when Pakistan shot down an Indian warplane in Kashmir and captured a pilot in response to an airstrike by Indian aircraft inside Pakistan.

India said the strikes targeted Pakistan-based militants responsible for a suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian troops in the India-controlled part of Kashmir.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies