Civilians Die In Kashmir Border Clash

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Written By Farid Shojaei

Nine died and dozens were wounded as Indian and Pakistani armed forces exchanged fire in the latest of a series of cross-border skirmishes.

Tensions have always run high between the Asian neighbours, who dispute the sovereignty of the Kashmir region.

India controls most of the province, but Pakistan has long laid claim as well.

The countries have fought three wars over Kashmir and thousands of troops and civilians have died over the years in clashes between the military on both sides and with militant separatists.

India argues that Pakistan supports and encourages the militants with weapons and aid.

The trigger for the latest swap of firing is thought to be August 9 representing the 50th anniversary of the Indian victory in the last war with Pakistan in 1965.

Unprovoked fire

Both sides had agreed to send delegates to talks to reduce tension in both countries over the anniversary, but the talks were called off.

Pakistani officials claim India wanted to talk about security in the region without discussing Kashmir, while India accused the Pakistanis attempting to add other issues to the meeting’s agenda.

However, both sides have agreed to meet to discuss security next month.

Observers say it is unclear which side started the latest hostilities – and both sides say they answered unprovoked fire from the other.

Shelling started around midnight on Thursday (August 27) and carried on until after dawn.

Among the casualties were three civilians dead and 47 injured on the Pakistani side of the border.

Terror links

The dispute goes back to the partition of India and Pakistan by the British in 1947.

The first war broke out shortly after British rule ended in India, followed by conflicts in 1965 and 1971.

Kashmir has always suffered an uneasy peace with India as the region is historically affiliated with Pakistan as well.

Nestling not only against borders with India and Pakistan, but also Afghanistan and China as well, the region has always been a hotbed of separatism and militants – not least with Al-Qaida.

The US government alleges that groups in Kashmir sheltered Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden when he was hiding from coalition forces and that members of the group have held active roles as military commanders in the Afghanistan branch of the terror organisation.