4 Pakistani soldiers killed in Indian shelling in Kashmir

Pakistani Kashmiris gather around the body of an army soldier on a trolley in Athmaqam on Sunday, after his death in a cross-border firing incident in Pakistan-administered Kashmir's Neelum Valley. (AFP)
Updated 17 July 2017
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4 Pakistani soldiers killed in Indian shelling in Kashmir

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: Four Pakistani soldiers were killed on Sunday when their army vehicle was struck by Indian shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC) that separates parts of Kashmir held by both countries, the Pakistani military said.
India’s ministry of defense Lt. Col. Rajesh Kalia said he had no knowledge of the incident.
India and Pakistan have been in confrontation for decades across the LoC. The old cease-fire line runs through a region that both countries claim in full but rule in part.
Growing exchanges of fire in past months have frayed a 2003 truce.
“Indian troops targeted an army vehicle moving along LoC ... The vehicle fell into the river and four soldiers have drowned,” Pakistan’s military said in a statement.
One body has been recovered from the Neelum River and a search is underway for the remaining three, the military said.
In November a civilian bus was hit by Indian firing in the same region, killing 12 people.
Pakistan’s military said it had responded to the cease-fire violation by firing at Indian soldiers.
In May India accused Pakistani forces of killing two soldiers patrolling the LoC and mutilating their bodies.
Pakistan’s military denied the allegations and said it had not committed cease-fire violations.
Both sides have previously accused each of violating the cease-fire and of beheading soldiers in the past.
India accuses Pakistan of backing Islamist militants and encouraging them to attack Indian forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir and, occasionally, in other parts of India.
Pakistan denies that and says India must hold negotiations on the future of Kashmir.


Rohingya refugees rescued after drifting at sea for 9 days

Updated 21 April 2018
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Rohingya refugees rescued after drifting at sea for 9 days

BIREUEN, Indonesia: A Rohingya Muslim man among the group of 76 rescued in Indonesian waters in a wooden boat says they were at sea for nine days after leaving Myanmar, where the minority group faces intense persecution, and were hoping to reach Malaysia.
The eight children, 25 women and 43 men were brought ashore on Friday afternoon at Bireuen in Aceh province on the island of Sumatra, the third known attempt by members of the ethnic minority to escape Myanmar by sea this month. Several required medical attention for dehydration and exhaustion, local authorities said.
Fariq Muhammad said he paid the equivalent of about $150 for a place on the boat that left from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where a violent military crackdown on the minority group has sparked an exodus of some 700,000 refugees over land into neighboring Bangladesh since August.
The refugee vessel was intercepted by a Thai navy frigate and later escorted by a Thai patrol vessel until sighting land, said Fariq. The group believed the Thais understood they wanted to reach Malaysia and were dismayed when they realized they were in Indonesia, said Fariq, who gave the identification numbers of the Thai vessels.
“We were forced to leave because we could not stay, could not work so our lives became difficult in Myanmar. Our identity card was not given so we were forced to go,” he told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Local officials and a charitable group are providing shelter and food for the refugees. The International Organization for Migration said it has sent a team from its Medan office in Sumatra, including Rohingya interpreters, to help local officials with humanitarian assistance.
Rohingya, treated as undesirables in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar and denied citizenship, used to flee by sea by the thousands each year until security in Myanmar was tightened after a surge of refugees in 2015 caused regional alarm.
In April, there has been an apparent increase in Rohingya attempts to leave the country by sea. An Indonesian fishing boat rescued a group of five Rohingya in weak condition off westernmost Aceh province on April 6, after a 20-day voyage in which five other people died.
Just days before, Malaysian authorities intercepted a vessel carrying 56 people believed to be Rohingya refugees and brought the vessel and its passengers to shore.
Mohammad Saleem, part of the group that landed Friday in Aceh, said they left from Sittwe in Rakhine state, the location of displacement camps for Rohingya set up following attacks in 2012 by Buddhist mobs.
“We’re not allowed to do anything. We don’t have a livelihood,” the 25-year-old said. “We can only live in the camps with not enough food to eat there. We have no rights there.”