SRINIGAR, Kashmir (AFP) — An Indian soldier was killed by Pakistani forces on the Kashmir border, the military said Friday, as a tense lockdown in the region of 7 million residents entered its third week.
The nuclear-armed neighbors regularly target each other with mortar shells and gunfire on the de facto border known as the Line of Control in the disputed Himalayan territory which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.
The latest skirmish came as ties hit a new low after India revoked the autonomy of the part of the region it controls, sparking protests from the local population and outrage from Pakistan.
The Indian soldier was manning a post in mountainous Retour district Friday when he came under unprovoked fire from across the border, media reports said.
A New Delhi-based Indian Army spokesman confirmed the incident to Agence France-Presse.
The death was the fourth claimed by the Indian side since the Aug. 5 decision to strip the region of its special constitutional status.
Pakistan’s military has said five people, including three soldiers, have died in shelling by Indian forces.
The border clashes are happening amid a curfew and lockdown in the valley, including its main city of Srinagar, over fears of large scale street protests against India’s move.
Posters have sprung up across the region calling for a public march to the local U.N. office after Friday prayers.
Sporadic demonstrations have rocked some parts of Srinagar, with clashes between stone-throwing protesters and government forces leaving more than 100 injured.
Residents in the Muslim-majority region have complained of a stifling environment and inability to get in touch with family and friends worried about their well-being, although some of the restrictions have been eased in recent days.
Kashmir has waged a three-decade long armed rebellion against Indian rule, with tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians, lost in the conflict.
Before its controversial announcement, India rushed tens of thousands of extra troops to the restive region to join 500,000 already in the valley, and imposed a strict communications clampdown.
The near-total communications blackout has triggered global concern, with a group of U.N. human rights experts warning Thursday it amounted to “collective punishment” and risked exacerbating regional tensions.
© Agence France-Presse