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Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 17:22 UK

Pakistan troops killed in Kashmir

By Syed Shoaib Hasan
BBC News, Islamabad

Pakistan soldier on Line of Control (file photo: January 2002)
Pakistan says its troops were on patrol when they were fired on

Pakistan says four of its soldiers have been killed by "unknown attackers" in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

An army spokesman told the BBC the clash took place along the Line of Control (LoC) dividing the region.

He said the small arms fire which killed the men had come from the Pakistani side of the de facto border.

India says militants opposed to its rule in part of Kashmir cross the LoC. Such incursions have dropped since a 2003 truce between India and Pakistan.

Several recent firing incidents across the line and rare allegations of ceasefire breaches have underlined how fragile the peace is.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in its entirety and have fought two of their three wars over the Himalayan region.

Patrol 'fired on'

Pakistan's military said two soldiers were killed on the spot in the clash on Thursday afternoon, and two others later died of their injuries.

"The incident took place in the Hajeera sector opposite the Indian-controlled region of Poonch," Pakistani army spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas told the BBC.

"It happened when a routine Pakistan army patrol was fired upon from a wooded area close to the LoC, but on the Pakistani side.

"I cannot confirm the identity of the attackers at this point."

Meanwhile, India's military said it had foiled an incursion by suspected militants in the Poonch sector.

"Even the Pakistani troops fired at the infiltrating militants who managed to run back and melt into thick mountainous forest," an Indian spokesman told the BBC.

'Sell-out'

The Hajeera sector has been known in the past for heavy artillery skirmishes between the two armies.

It has also been used by militants belonging to Pakistan militant organisations to cross into Indian-controlled Kashmir.

That region has been the focal point of an insurgency by the militants, although it has receded in intensity since the 2003 ceasefire.

India has often accused Pakistan of aiding the insurgents in the past. But it has admitted the border crossings have decreased dramatically since 2003.

The militants have accused Pakistan of selling out over the Kashmir cause.



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