India says two soldiers killed in clash with Pakistan

SRINAGAR: Pakistani troops killed two Indian soldiers on Tuesday near the tense disputed border between the nuclear-armed neighbours in Kashmir and one of the bodies was badly mutilated, the Indian army said.
The firefight broke out at about noon on Tuesday (0630 GMT) after an Indian patrol discovered Pakistani troops about half a kilometre (1,600 feet) inside Indian territory, army spokesman Rajesh Kalia told AFP.

A ceasefire has been in place along the Line of Control that divides the countries since 2003, but it is periodically violated by both sides and Pakistan said Indian troops killed a Pakistani soldier on Sunday.

"The government of India considers the incident as a provocative action and we condemn it," said a statement from India's defence ministry over the latest clash. "The government will take up the incident with the Pakistan government."

Relations between the neighbours had been slowly improving over the last few years following a rupture in their slow-moving peace process after the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which were blamed by India on Pakistan-based militants.

"There was a firefight with Pakistani troops," Kalia told AFP from the mountainous Himalayan region, confirming the names of the men as sergeants Hemraj Singh and Sudhakar Singh.

"We lost two soldiers and one of them has been badly mutilated," he added, declining to give more details on the injuries.

"The intruders were regular (Pakistani) soldiers and they were 400-500 metres (1,300-1,600 feet) inside our territory," he said of the clash in Mendhar sector, 173 kilometres (107 miles) west by road from the city of Jammu.

In Islamabad, a Pakistan military spokesman denied what he called an "Indian allegation of unprovoked firing", adding that the Indian account was "propaganda to divert the attention of the world from Sunday's raid on a Pakistani post".

Pakistan's army says Indian troops crossed the Line of Control on Sunday and stormed a military post in an attack that left one Pakistani soldier dead and another injured.

It lodged a formal protest with India on Monday.

India denied crossing the line, but a foreign ministry spokesman said Indian troops had undertaken "controlled retaliation" on Sunday after "unprovoked firing" which damaged a civilian home.

The deaths deal a serious blow to efforts to ease tension in South Asia and improve diplomatic relations, such as opening up trade and offering more lenient visa regimes which have been a feature of recent high-level talks.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is a Himalayan region which India and Pakistan both claim in full but rule in part. It was the cause of two of three wars between the neighbours since independence from Britain in 1947.

The chief minister of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, condemned the alleged mutilation as "unacceptable in any civilised society".

"Clearly someone up the chain of command (in Pakistan) wants to do everything to derail any dialogue between the two countries," he wrote on Twitter.

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Anika Devi received her Bachelor’s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University in 2012. She began freelancing for Business Solutions BD in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor.
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