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India, Pakistan Trade Accusations Over Border Killings
India reacted angrily today at what it called the "inhumane treatment" of one of two soldiers killed Tuesday in a skirmish along the de facto border with Pakistan.
Pakistan challenged the Indian army's allegations and said it is prepared to hold an investigation through the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) into recent ceasefire violations along what is known as the Line of Control (LOC).
The killing of Indian troops Tuesday followed the fatal shooting of a Pakistani soldier Sunday. Pakistan alleges Indian forces crossed the border then. India alleges Pakistani regular troops crossed into Indian-controlled Kashmir Tuesday. Both sides deny any cross-border firing.
The contested Himalayan region of Kashmir has been the scene of small skirmishes over the years, but a ceasefire between the two sides has generally held. However, these latest incidents are heating up a war of words between the two nuclear rivals.
India's Director General of Military Operations spoke over a hotline with his counterpart in Pakistan about the incident that India's Defense Minister termed "highly provocative." India lodged a "strong protest" with Pakistan's top envoy, Salman Bashir, over "the actions of the Pakistan army on January 8, 2013." India's Ministry of External Affairs said today that "regular Pakistan troops crossed the Line of Control ... and engaged the Indian troops who were patrolling this sector. Two Indian soldiers were killed in the attack and their bodies subjected to barbaric and inhuman mutilation."
There are conflicting reports regarding this. Indian Army spokesman Col. Jagadish Dahiya said one soldier had been decapitated and that his head is missing. A spokesman for India's Northern Command told new agencies that the body of one solider was found "badly mutilated" in a forested area on the Indian side of the line, but denied reports of a beheading.
Pakistan's army rejected India's allegations of an incursion calling them "baseless and unfounded." It said the Pakistani army has carried out a "ground verification" and "found nothing of this sort happened." Pakistan added that it remained committed to the ceasefire agreement of 2003.
India's Army spokesman said Pakistan was in the state of denial.
(NPR's Julie McCarthy is based in New Delhi.)