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Gunfire shatters Kargil, Dras silence after 14 years

Gunfire shatters Kargil, Dras silence after 14 years

File photo of India-Pakistan border

Poonch, Jammu:  In the massive exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops in various sectors since yesterday, Pakistan fired across the Line of Control in the Kargil and Dras sectors of Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in the 14 years since the Kargil war of 1999.

Firing continued overnight in the Poonch sector after India retaliated strongly to Pakistani attacks that injured three soldiers, three jawans, and some civilians early on Thursday as India celebrated Independence Day.

This was the eleventh instance of ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the last one week. Sources in the Indian Army said its strong response was aimed at conveying "in no uncertain terms India's intention to protect its borders".

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while delivering his Independence Day address on Thursday, had warned Pakistan that it must prevent use of its territory for any anti-India activity for improvement in ties between the two countries.

The last two weeks have seen what the Indian Army has describes as the biggest ceasefire violation in recent months. About 28 militants have also been killed while trying to infiltrate into India under the cover of fire by the Pakistani troops in the last two months.

Pakistan has been known to favour the strategy of pushing through as many militants as possible into India before the mountain passes of the Himalayas close with the onset of winters. They use the skirmishes at the border as cover for the infiltration attempts.

The Kargil conflict had happened after militants and Pakistani soldiers crossed over and took positions on the Indian side of the LoC over the winter months of 1998-99. The two countries were involved in armed conflict between May and July 1999, when India successfully cleared the Kargil sector.
 
Defence Ministry sources say that they also expect Pakistan's Army to step up hostilities at the border with general elections in India just months away. Incidentally, general elections were held in India in September 1999.

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