Indian and Pakistani troops exchange fire, at least 15 dead

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(Add Pakistani military comments to paragraphs 3 and 4)

By Fayaz Bukhari and Abu Arqam Naqash

SRINAGAR, India / MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan, November 13 (Reuters) – At least 10 civilians and five security personnel were killed in cross-border shelling between India and Pakistan on Friday in one of the deadliest days this year along the heavily militarized border that separates nuclear-weapon rivals, officials said.

Indian officials said the barrage of mortars and other weapons along several parts of the Line of Control – the de facto border – began after Indian troops foiled an attempt to infiltrate Pakistan into the north of Kashmir.

The Pakistani military said in a statement that it had responded to unprovoked and indiscriminate fire from the Indian military.

Indian officials said six civilians, three soldiers and a border guard were killed on their side. The Pakistani army said four civilians and a soldier were killed on the Pakistani side.

India and Pakistan fully claim Kashmir. Each governs part of the region, with New Delhi long accusing its neighbor of fueling an insurgency, which Pakistan denies.

Indian and Pakistani troops regularly exchange fire across the mountainous border, but Friday’s shelling was particularly intense, according to Indian officials. The two sides also accused the other of shooting at civilian areas.

“As usual, they targeted the civilian populations without any remorse,” said Syed Shahid Qadri, a government official in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, where a woman was among the dead and 27 others were injured.

Across the border in Indian-controlled Kashmir, officials said an 8-year-old was among those killed in the shelling that started in the morning and continued late into the evening.

Mukhtar Ahmad, a resident of Uri in Indian Kashmir, said there was panic in the hillside town after loud explosions were heard in areas closer to the de facto border.

“Several families fled the area and took refuge in the town of Uri,” he said.

More than 40 civilians have been killed in gunfire between Indian and Pakistani troops this year, according to official data, with both sides suffering similar deaths. (Additional reporting and writing by Devjyot Ghoshal editing by Peter Graff)

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