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Two children killed as India, Pakistan exchange of gunfire in Kashmir

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Two children were killed Monday during an exchange of gunfire between Indian and Pakistani troops in disputed Kashmir, Indian authorities said.

Twelve civilians, including two women and two teenage girls, were wounded on the Indian side of the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC) that divides the restive Himalayan region.

A police statement said firing from Pakistan had killed a 10-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl.

Indian army spokesman Colonel N.N. Joshi said soldiers retaliated after “unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatics and mortars” from the Pakistan side in the Poonch sector at the southern end of the unofficial frontier.

Later Monday, Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned the Indian envoy over the latest round of fighting.

Senior official Mohammad Faisal condemned “unprovoked ceasefire violations” by India on Saturday and Monday, which authorities said left three civilians dead and five others wounded in the Rukh Chakri and Rawalakot sectors along the Line of Control.

“This is the fifth ceasefire violation by the Indian forces in the past 12 days resulting in the shahadat (martyrdom) of 11 civilians, including five women, and injuries to 37 others,” the ministry said in a statement.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both countries claim the territory in full.

The nuclear-armed neighbours regularly exchange mortar fire across the border despite signing a ceasefire in 2003.

Tensions reached dangerous levels in September last year, with each side blaming the other for cross-border raids. Gun battles on the border are frequent with deaths and injuries reported on both sides.

Last month Pakistan said a five-year-old girl had been killed when she was hit by a bullet fired from the Indian side.

New Delhi has said Pakistan initiates cross-border firing to help anti-India rebels cross into Indian-administered Kashmir to launch attacks.

Islamabad has denied the allegation and said it provides only diplomatic support to the Kashmiri campaign for self-determination.

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