Indian army says rebels kill 2 soldiers in Kashmir

The Indian army said two of its soldiers were killed in an ambush by suspected insurgents on Saturday even as troops traded gunfire with Pakistani forces across a cease-fire line dividing Kashmir between the two rivals.

Col. Rajesh Kalia, an army spokesman, said the insurgents fired indiscriminately at an army convoy on a key highway, wounding four other soldiers in the southern Qazigund area in the Indian portion of Kashmir. The wounded were evacuated to an army hospital.

Indian security forces launched a search for the attackers, who fled after the attack. The area is 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Earlier, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry accused India of resorting to "unprovoked" firing in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, wounding two villagers on the Pakistani side.

The two sides blamed each other for "unprovoked" firing. Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria condemned what he called "deliberate targeting of civilians" by India.

He said the latest violation of the 2003 cease-fire agreement by India took place Friday. Pakistan's military said it returned fire after coming under attack in Kashmir's Nazapir border village in Tatta Pani area and killed five Indian soldiers and wounded several others, which the Indian army did not confirm.

The two armies often blame each other for starting the firing across the cease-fire line. They also claim killing soldiers on the other side.

Nazapir is the same area where Indian forces in 2015 used heavy weapons as people celebrated the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, triggering skirmishes in which several Pakistanis were killed or wounded.

Lt. Col. Manish Mehta, an Indian army spokesman, said Pakistani soldiers have resorted to unprovoked cease-fire violations by attacking Indian positions for several days in the region, firing automatic rifles and mortars. "The Indian army posts are retaliating strongly and effectively," he said.The latest exchange of gunfire took place on Friday and Saturday, he said.

Kashmir is split between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both in its entirety. The nuclear-armed rivals have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since British colonialists left in 1947.

Insurgents have been fighting for Kashmir's independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, a charge Islamabad denies.


Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.