India says 2 soldiers killed in clash with Pakistan troops
SRINAGAR, India - 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, an army spokesman 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.
Relations 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," army spokesman Rajesh Kalia told AFP from the mountainous Himalayan region.
"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". He declined to elaborate.
On Sunday Pakistan said Indian troops had crossed the Line of Control and stormed a military post. It said one Pakistani soldier was killed and another injured.
It lodged a formal protest with India on Monday over what it called an unprovoked attack.
India denied crossing the line, saying it had retaliated with small arms fire after Pakistani mortars hit a village home.
A foreign ministry spokesman said Indian troops had undertaken "controlled retaliation" on Sunday after "unprovoked firing" which damaged a civilian home.
The deaths are set to undermine recent efforts to improve relations, such as opening up trade and offering more lenient visa regimes which have been a feature of talks between senior political leaders from both sides.
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. -Rappler.com