POST TIME: 16 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 16 August, 2019 01:06:25 AM
5 dead as India, Pakistan trade fire in Kashmir
UNSC closed-door meet today
AFP, Muzaffarabad, Pakistan and United Nations, US

5 dead as India, Pakistan trade fire in Kashmir

Five people died in firing along the de facto border in disputed Kashmir yesterday, the Pakistani military and local officials said, as tensions between nuclear-armed rivals Islamabad and New Delhi soar over the Himalayan region. Skirmishes are frequent across the so-called Line of Control (LoC), but the latest deaths in two separate incidents come after Pakistan warned it was ready to meet any Indian aggression over Kashmir.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold a rare meeting on Kashmir after India stripped the region of its autonomy, sparking a row with Pakistan, diplomats told AFP yesterday. The meeting will take place behind closed doors on Friday morning, the diplomats said.

Poland, which currently holds the council's rotating presidency, has listed the matter for discussion at 10:00 am (1400 GMT), the diplomats added. It is extremely rare for the Security Council to discuss Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947. The last time there was a full Security Council meeting on the Himalayan region was in 1965.

The Pakistani military said in a statement yesterday, "In efforts to divert attention from precarious situation in IOJ&K (Indian-held Kashmir),Indian Army increases firing along LOC. 3 Pakistani soldiers embraced shahadat. Pakistan Army responded effectively,"

"5 Indian soldiers killed, many injured, bunkers damaged. Intermittent exchange of fire continues," it added, without specifying further where the incident took place. There was no immediate confirmation from Indian officials.

Separately, two civilians were killed and one injured by the Indian troops along the LoC in Rawalakot district in Pakistani-held Kashmir, a senior local official there told AFP. The official, Mirza Arshad Jarral, said intermittent exchanges of fire between the two militaries had been going on since morning.

The former princely state of Kashmir was divided between Pakistan and India on their independence from Britain in 1947. They have fought two of their three wars over the territory -- though none since both countries acquired nuclear weapons.

Tensions skyrocketed following India's shock move to revoke the autonomy of its portion of the disputed Himalayan territory last week. On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister addressed the local legislative assembly of the Pakistani-administered Kashmir in Muzaffarabad.