India, Pakistan exchange heavy border fire

04 March, 2019, 06:58 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Why these wreckage are being taken away? Are these of F-16 which was reportedly shot down by Indian troops

In Indian-ruled Kashmir, troops on Sunday shot dead two militants after a three-day gun battle that also killed five security force personnel, taking the total death toll to 25 in the past two weeks.

Officials say two siblings and their mother have been killed in cross-border shelling between Indian and Pakistani soldiers in disputed Kashmir.

Pakistan says last week's strikes were both ineffective - claiming they hit an empty hillside - and an unprecedented breach of the Line of Control, the first in years.

Pakistan retaliated, shooting down the MiG-21 fighter jet on Wednesday and capturing Varthaman.

According to Qatar News Agency, the two leaders exchanged views on the regional and worldwide developments, especially the differences between Pakistan and India.

"So it is very complicated dealing with Pakistan... but as [former prime minister] Vajpayee Ji once said and Dr Manmohan Singh repeated, Pakistan is our neighbour, we can change our friends, we cannot change our neighbours".

Al Jazeera's Rahman said the India-Pakistan standoff is likely to be a major issue in the Indian general election, due in April and May.

India said it struck at militant training camps, but Islamabad denied any such camps existed, as did villagers in the area when Reuters visited.

The nuclear-armed rivals fired mortars and artillery at each other despite the release of an Indian pilot who had been shot down by Pakistan but then sent back as a "goodwill gesture".

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Anger over 'forced' video of Indian pilot amid new Kashmir deaths
It is hoped his return could defuse tensions between the two nuclear powers and avoid another war between India and Pakistan . The rivals have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since their independence from British rule in 1947.

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State Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao termed Yeddyurappa's statement "disgusting, shameful and irresponsible". The entire nation has joined Wing Commander Varthaman's family in prayers for his safe return.

The army in a statement said that the armed forces of Pakistan remain on high alert to thwart any aggression from the bellicose India.

Media reports said Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's return to India had been held up because the pilot was forced to make the video before his release.

As escalating tensions fuelled concerns of all-out war between nuclear-tipped Pakistan, Imran warned of catastrophic consequences should "better sense" not prevail.The premier ended his speech with another peace talks offer and cooperation in Pulwama attack investigation to India.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani army announced that two civilians have died as two more were wounded along the LoC in the past 24 hours. "Now with another election coming up, Indian politicians are trying to internationally isolate Pakistan, while domestically build consensus that will help them win the election", he said.

On Twitter in Pakistan, #PakSymbolofPeace was trending, while in India the top trend was #PakistanJihad.

Cross-border shelling in the past few days has killed seven people on the Pakistani side and four on the Indian side of Kashmir, but on Sunday it was relatively quiet.

The official, Umar Azam, said Saturday that Pakistani troops are "befittingly" responding to the Indian fire. "We are at the mercy of these soldiers", said Mohammed Akram, a resident in the Mendhar area in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Sakina, a young woman who fled to a shelter with her two kids, said the frequent shelling had made them "homeless in our own land".

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