SRINAGAR, India — Indian and Pakistani soldiers have again targeted each other's posts and villages along their volatile frontier in disputed Kashmir, killing at least six civilians and two Pakistani troops, officials said Saturday.
Tensions have run high since Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan this past Tuesday, carrying out what India called a preemptive strike against militants blamed for a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops. Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a fighter jet Wednesday and detaining its pilot, who was returned to India on Friday in a peace gesture.
Fighting resumed overnight Friday. Pakistan's military said two of its soldiers were killed in an exchange of fire with Indian forces near the Line of Control that separates Kashmir between the rivals. It marked the first fatalities for Pakistani troops since Wednesday, when tensions dramatically escalated between the nuclear-armed countries over Kashmir, which is split between them but claimed by both in its entirety.
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Indian police, meanwhile, said two siblings and their mother were killed in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The three died after a shell fired by Pakistani soldiers hit their home near the Line of Control. The children's father was critically wounded.
In Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, government official Umar Azam said Indian troops with heavy weapons "indiscriminately targeted border villagers" along the Line of Control, killing a boy and wounding three other people. He said several homes were destroyed by Indian shelling.
Following a short lull, shelling and firing of small arms resumed Saturday. A Pakistani military statement said two civilians were killed and two others wounded in the fresh fighting. The Indian army said Pakistani troops attacked Indian posts at several places along the militarized line.
Meanwhile, Indian police said two paramilitary soldiers and two counterinsurgency police officials were killed in a gunbattle with militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir, while troops fatally shot a civilian during anti-India protests.
Since tensions escalated following last month's suicide attack, world leaders have scrambled to head off an all-out war between India and Pakistan. The rivals have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since their independence from British rule in 1947.
The current violence marks the most serious escalation of the long-simmering conflict since 1999, when Pakistan's military sent a ground force into Indian-controlled Kashmir and an Indian fighter destroyed a Pakistani naval aircraft, killing all 16 on board.
Thousands of people on both sides of Kashmir have fled to government-run temporary shelters or relatives' homes in safer areas to escape shelling along the frontier, which is marked by razor wire, watch towers and bunkers amid tangled bushes, forests and fields of rice and corn.
"These battles are fought on our bodies, in our homes and fields, and we still don't have anything in our hands. We are at the mercy of these soldiers," said Mohammed Akram, a resident in the Mendhar area in Indian-controlled Kashmir.