Kashmir border clashes leave several dead

Several people have been killed in fresh exchanges of gunfire between Pakistani and Indian border forces in the disputed Kashmir region.

There were conflicting reports from either side as to the number of casualties and the circumstances surrounding the clashes on Tuesday, the latest in a series of skirmishes that have killed soldiers and civilians on both sides over the past week.

Also on Tuesday, Pakistan announced it would take its Kashmir dispute with India to the United Nations' top judicial body, the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

India's decision earlier this month to revoke the special constitutional status of its part of Kashmir and impose a security lockdown on the region has escalated tensions between the neighbours, who have previously fought two wars over Kashmir.

Pakistan and India both control parts of Kashmir but each lays claim to the entire region since the countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.

The ceasefire violations on Tuesday took place in Tatta Pani sector along the Line of Control, a de facto border that divides the disputed region into two parts, one administered by India and the other by Pakistan.

Pakistani army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said Indian gunfire killed three civilians, including a seven-year-old boy. The army returned fire, killing six Indian soldiers, including an officer and destroying two bunkers.

The Indian army said only one of its soldiers was killed and four more were injured. It accused Pakistani troops of opening fire on Indian frontier posts across the the region and claims it retaliated.

The Indian army caused heavy damages to Pakistani army posts and casualties to Pakistani soldiers, Indian defence officials claimed, according to broadcaster NDTV.

The clashes come as India-administered Kashmir saw a slight easing of restrictions imposed since August 5, with the opening of schools and government offices as well as landline phones in recent days. Internet and mobile services remain suspended across the region.

Protests and stone-pelting incidents have been reported across the main city of Srinagar, resulting in injuries to several people, officials say.

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council held a closed-door meeting on the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in 50 years. Pakistan welcomed the meeting, calling it a diplomatic win.

US President Donald Trump also spoke to the leaders of both countries in recent days in a bid to reduce rising tensions between the nuclear powers.

On Sunday, two civilians were killed in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in firing by Indian forces, the Pakistani army said. At least three Pakistani soldiers were killed in clashes last Thursday.



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