Death toll from Indian shelling rises to 11

MUZAFFARABAD: Artillery fire and shelling from India targeted several villages and struck a passenger bus near the dividing line in the disputed region of Kashmir on Wednesday, killing 11 civilians, the Pakistani military and officials said.

According to Deputy Commissioner Waheed Khan, an artillery shell hit a passenger bus in the scenic Neelum Valley in the Pakistani part of Kashmir, killing nine people, three died on the scene and six later, at a hospital. Several people were also reported wounded in that attack.

Another two civilians died when a mortar shell hit their house in the Nakyal sector in Kotli district, said police official Waseem Khan. The shelling sent residents fleeing in panic, he said.

An army statement said Pakistani troops were firing back on Indian military positions. The statement also said that an ambulance that had rushed the scene of the attack was fired upon by India.

A senior Indian army officer, speaking on condition of anonymity under military regulations, said that Indian troops were responding to an alleged attack on an army patrol that killed three Indian soldiers on Tuesday.

Deadly exchanges of fire in the disputed Kashmir have intensified in recent weeks. Tensions have escalated since unknown militants attacked an Indian army base in Kashmir in September.

India in a false claim stated that the militants were supported by Pakistan, the charges were however strongly denied by Islamabad.

So far this week, at least 18 people, civilians and soldiers, have been killed on both sides.

Last week, Pakistani army claimed to have shot down a small Indian drone in Kashmir, a day after the Pakistani navy intercepted and prevented the Indian submarines entering the country’s territorial waters in the Arabian Sea. -AP