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Indian troops shot dead near Kashmir’s Line of Control

Two Indian soldiers have been shot dead in the disputed Kashmir region between India and Pakistan, officials say.

The Indian army said a patrol was attacked by Pakistani soldiers in “a grave provocation” near the so-called Line of Control.

Pakistan denied the accusation. The deaths came two days after a Pakistani soldier was killed near the LoC.

Kashmir is claimed by both nations in its entirety and has been a flashpoint between them for more than 60 years.

Tuesday’s shootings took place near Mendhar, 220 km (140 miles) north of the Indian city of Jammu, Indian officials said.

Thick fog

The Indian army said in a statement that a group of regular Pakistani soldiers crossed the LoC, “having taken advantage of thick fog and mist in the forested area”.

The soldiers “were moving towards [their] own posts when an alert area domination patrol spotted and engaged the intruders”, it said.

A firefight broke out between Pakistan and Indian troops, lasting about half an hour before “the intruders retreated back towards their side” of the LoC, the Indian statement said.

The dead soldiers were named as Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh.

“This is yet another grave provocation by [the Pakistan army] which is being taken up sternly through official channels,” the statement went on to say.

But Pakistani military officials denied what they described as an “Indian allegation of unprovoked firing”.

“It appears to be Indian propaganda to divert the attention of the world away from the Sunday raid on a Pakistani post by Indian troops in which a Pakistani soldier was killed,” they said.

Pakistan has alleged that Indian soldiers crossed the LoC at the time of Sunday’s incident, a charge denied by the Indian army.

Exchanges in the disputed area are not uncommon but rarely result in fatalities.

There has been a ceasefire in Kashmir since late 2003.

India suspended a peace process with Pakistan following attacks by Pakistan-based militants in Mumbai in 2008. Negotiations resumed in February last year.

Last month, the nations signed an agreement to ease visa restrictions on travel for some citizens.