8 die as India, Pakistan trade fire, blame in Kashmir

Indian and Pakistani troops traded heavy gunfire and mortar rounds for a seventh straight day Sunday along the highly militarized line of control dividing the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir between the two archrivals, officials said.
Indian army spokesman Lt. Col. Manish Mehta said Pakistani troops fired on Indian positions in Balakote and Poonch sectors. Indian police officer Danish Rana said six civilians had died in the Pakistani shelling over the last two days. At least 17 others were wounded.
Pakistan’s army said in a statement that two civilians had been killed and two others wounded in the fighting.
The fighting follows a familiar pattern, with each side blaming the other. Both sides used terms like “unprovoked firing” and “befitting reply” to describe the actions of the other, and detail their own response.
Despite a 2003 cease-fire, the two neighbors regularly trade fire, the latest coming as India celebrated Independence Day on Saturday. Pakistan observed it a day earlier.
Mehta said the clashes were still going on Sunday evening.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed in its entirety by both. The countries have fought two of their three wars over their competing claims to Kashmir.
The recent fighting comes even as the top security advisers of both countries are scheduled to meet in the Indian capital on Aug. 23. The two men are expected to talk about combatting terrorism in the region.

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