MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan – A Pakistani villager was killed and another wounded as Pakistani and Indian soldiers pounded one another's positions with heavy artillery and mortar fire along the disputed boundary in Kashmir, police and witnesses said Saturday.
There was no word on military casualties during the shelling, which began Friday night and continued into Saturday. Witnesses described the exchange of fire as the heaviest in recent days, prompting an undetermined number of villagers to flee the area along the line of control dividing Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir.
Mohammed Shafique, 17, was killed and a 10-year-old boy was wounded by shelling in Abbaspur near Rawalakot, about 100 miles south of Muzaffarabad, a police officer said on condition he not be named. At least three houses were also destroyed, he said.
At least 30,000 people have fled Rawalakot region since the start of tensions following Dec. 13 attack on Indian Parliament. Heavy exchanges were also reported in the Kahuta sector, about 110 miles from Muzaffarabad.
Tensions between the two South Asian rivals escalated dramatically after the Dec. 13 attack by armed militants against the Indian parliament building in New Delhi. India has accused Pakistan of supporting two militant Kashmiri groups which the Indians blame for the attack.
Pakistan and the two groups deny the charge.
India has moved tens of thousands of troops at its border with Pakistan demanding arrest of the alleged militants and banning of Islamic guerrilla groups, waging a bloody secessionist war in its part of Kashmir. Pakistan has also moved troops near the border.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is expected to announce major policy decisions on combating terrorism and lowering tensions with India in an address to the nation Saturday.
The United States and other Western nations are hoping that Musharraf will announce tough measures against Islamic militants operating in both Indian and Pakistani Kashmir. The international community has been urging Pakistan and India to ease tension to prevent a full-fledged war.
Kashmir, a former princely state, has already been the cause of two out of three wars between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim Kashmir in entirety.
Hindu-dominated India accuses Pakistan of fomenting violence in its only Muslim-majority state of Kashmir. Pakistan calls it an indigenous freedom struggle.