(Reuters) – India and Pakistan exchanged gunfire across the Kashmir frontier on Saturday, Indian military officials said, ending a pause in fighting that has already killed 17 civilians in the two countries in the worst skirmishes in a decade.
After nine days of attacking each other with mortars and heavy machine guns, the two armies abruptly stopped fighting on Thursday night, although their governments kept up the war of words blaming the other of launching unprovoked fire.
But on Saturday, Pakistan border guards targeted 10 Indian border posts in the Poonch sector, an Indian army official said. “Our troops retaliated. Heavy firing is going on,” he said.
There was also no word from Pakistan on the latest outbreak of fighting.
Both sides have blamed the other for triggering a crisis on the border, with Pakistan suggesting that India’s new government led by nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi was flexing its muscles on the dispute over Kashmir, the cause of two wars.
New Delhi says Pakistan has ratcheted up tensions to keep alive the 67-year-old dispute and vowed a strong response to any Pakistani attempt to stir up trouble in the Muslim-majority region where India is trying to end an armed revolt.
“Pakistan wants to internationalize the Kashmir issue, but they have failed in it. They have failed in infiltrating terrorists – they want to give cover to them by firing at our posts. We gave them a befitting reply,” army lieutenant general K.H. Singh said.
The two sides agreed a ceasefire in 2003 which has frayed over the past two years.