Kashmir braces for worst as shelling, gunbattles escalate

2 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

NOWSHERA: India and Pakistan fired barrages of shells at each other across their angry Kashmir frontier Friday, leaving at least one dead as the troubled region braces for more violence amid renewed hostilities between the arch-rivals, reports AFP.

While Pakistan’s promised release of an Indian pilot has eased the threat of a wider conflict, there has been no letup in the Himalayan region divided between the neighbours since 1947.

Alongside the shelling, which caused widespread damage, Indian forces in Kashmir killed two suspected militants during a night-time clash.

It comes after Indian and Pakistan fighter jets staged tit-for-tat cross-border raids this week, as they wrangled over a suicide bomb attack in Kashmir last month that left 40 Indian paramilitaries dead. 

India blamed Pakistan, which denied any role, as it does in an armed uprising in Muslim-majority Kashmir that has left tens of thousands dead since 1989.

Shelling that has been a part of daily life for decades has intensified even as Pakistan said it would free a pilot shot down on its side of the Line of Control that divides Kashmir.

“There is a very high risk of escalation towards localised, but more intense direct Indian-Pakistani military confrontation in Kashmir,” Jane’s Intelligence service said in a study this week. Heavy mortar and artillery fire sent inhabitants on both sides of the frontier scurrying for bunkers and other cover.