ISLAMABAD: Indian and Pakistani troops traded fire along their tense border on Monday, killing four civilians including a teenage boy and a soldier in the latest in a series of deadly clashes, officials said.
Tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours escalated last week when an Indian border guard and two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers were killed during exchanges of heavy fire.
Indian shelling killed four Pakistani civilians including a teenage boy and a woman near the eastern city of Sialkot on Monday, a military spokesman in Islamabad said.
“A total of four civilians (were martyred) this evening due to Indian BSF shelling on civilian population,” the military spokesman said in a statement.
“Pakistani rangers are effectively responding to India’s (unprovoked) firing,” the statement added.
There was no immediate reaction from the Indian government.
Earlier in the day, an Indian paramilitary soldier was killed in another clash along their tense border in disputed Kashmir.
“A BSF (Border Security Force) constable who was injured in the firing from Pakistan in Hiranagar sector this afternoon has died,” Rajesh Kumar, inspector general of police for the region, told AFP.
Kumar said the Indian side retaliated after coming under fire from Pakistani rockets in the Samba sector, around 350 kilometres south of the region’s main city of Srinagar.
The United States offered its condolences on the deaths, calling for greater dialogue between the two countries.
“Our thoughts would go out to the families of any lives who have been lost,” Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said.
“We certainly remain concerned and watch over tensions along the border. And we encourage dialogue between the countries,” Psaki said.
Recent exchanges of fire across the de facto border, known as the Line of Control (LoC) have killed more than two dozen civilians and forced thousands to flee their homes on both sides.
Pakistan and India, who have fought two wars over Muslim-majority Kashmir, have traded blame for the upsurge in firing and shelling which started on October 6.
India called off peace talks in August after Pakistan first consulted Kashmiri separatists, a move some saw as a sign of a tougher stance by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new right-wing government. -AFP