Indian and Pakistani troops exchange fire in Kashmir

Indian and Pakistani troops exchange fire in Kashmir

Indian and Pakistani troops have exchanged fire in the disputed Kashmir region after a brief lull since a dangerous escalation between the two countries that erupted last week, Indian Defence Ministry spokesman Lieut. Col. Devender Anand said.

"At about 3 a.m. today [21:30 GMT on Sunday], the Pakistan Army resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation by shelling and firing in the Akhnoor sector. Our positions effectively retaliated. The firing exchanges stopped at 6.30 a.m.," Sputnik cited Anand as saying.

According to the Indian Army, all educational institutions within a distance of 5 km from the Line of Control – a military control line between the Indian-and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir – remained closed on 4 March.

Pakistani government official Moazzam Zafar said some 200 families have already taken shelter in three large government buildings in the territory. The official said the authorities were providing warm clothing, bedding, food, and medicines, and would establish more such camps.

The incident follows airstrikes on 26 February when Indian aircraft attacked what it said was a militant camp in Pakistan in retaliation for a deadly assault that killed at least 40 Indian troops in Indian-administered Kashmir on 14 February.

Director of the Center for Studies of Eastern Asia and the SCO of the Institute for International Studies of MGIMO Alexander Lukin, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that in the near future the conflict between India and Pakistan is likely to develop in a low-intensity mode. "It is unlikely that the escalation of the conflict will be sharp. At least, the leaders of both countries make peace-loving statements, they don't need war here and now. At the same time, we must understand that the situation on the ground is difficult. In particular, Kashmir separatists may provoke local clashes. But the  Islamabad and Delhi authorities will try to avoid a major conflict," he expects.

"The fact is that both India and Pakistan has an understanding that neither one nor the other side can solve this conflict by force and completely master Kashmir. The current situation is connected with other factors, in particular, the upcoming parliamentary elections in India. If the government and the ruling party do not respond to the attacks of the separatists, it will be considered as a weakness - therefore, Delhi has to shoot back. We can also expect that the clashes will be also restrained by the international community, because no one in the world is interested in the fighting between Pakistan and India," Alexander Lukin said.

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