NEW DELHI/JAMMU, India/MIRANSHAH, Pakistan: Military officials from India and Pakistan hold talks today at the Line of Control, which divides disputed Kashmir, in a bid to defuse tensions after a series of deadly attacks in the region, Indian army officials said.
Four soldiers were killed last week in the worst outbreak of violence in Kashmir since the nuclear-armed neighbors agreed a ceasefire nearly a decade ago.
“Yes the two sides will be meeting today. This is a local commander meet,” Colonel Rajesh Kalia, a spokesman for Indian Army’s Northern Command, told Reuters by phone.
Another Indian Army spokesman, Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya, said in New Delhi that the meeting would take place in Mendhar, the scene of one of the deadly attacks, at 1 p.m. (0730 GMT).
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Firing and small skirmishes are common along the 740-km (460-mile) LoC despite a ceasefire that was agreed in 2003. The Indian army says eight of its soldiers were killed in 2012, in 75 incidents of ceasefire violations.
Last Sunday, a Pakistani soldier was killed in what Islamabad said was a cross-border raid mounted by the Indians. The Indian army denied any of its troops breached the control line, but said there had been an exchange of fire.
Two days later, further south along the LoC in the Mendhar district, two Indian soldiers were killed in a thick forest after what Indian officials said was a deep incursion into their territory by Pakistani forces. The head of one of the bodies had been “badly severed,” according to Indian officials.
On Thursday, hostilities erupted again in another part of the ceasefire line, and this time Pakistan said one of its soldiers was killed.
Roadside bomb kills 14 Pakistani troops
Meanwhile, at least 14 Pakistani soldiers were killed and 25 others injured yesterday when a roadside bomb hit a military convoy in a lawless tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.
The improvised explosive device struck the convoy in Dosali village in the troubled North Waziristan tribal district, a notorious stronghold of Taleban and Al- Qaeda-linked militants, a senior military official said.
“At least 14 soldiers embraced martyrdom and 25 others were wounded in an IED (attack),” he said about the bombing which was confirmed by local security officials.
All the soldiers killed were in one truck and those injured were in vehicles behind it, he added.
Local residents said military helicopter gunships had reached the scene after the attack. Nobody immediately claimed responsibility but Taleban militants frequently attack security forces in the area.
The seven northwestern tribal districts are rife with homegrown insurgents as well as Taleban and Al-Qaeda-linked operatives.
Islamabad says more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
On Saturday, Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taleban, had circulated a leaflet calling for an end to the Taleban’s infrequent attacks on Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan.
Thousands of Pakistani soldiers are stationed in North Waziristan.