Fire exchanges between Indian and Pakistani troops have left at least two civilians dead and three others injured in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.
A Pakistan army statement said the casualties occurred on Monday after Indian troops targeted civilians in Jandrot and Hot Spring sectors across the Line of Control (LoC), which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Media reports said the two teenagers, who were residents of Bhabra village, lost their lives when Indian troops resorted to “unprovoked shelling” along the LoC.
Reacting to the development, Lieutenant Colonel Manish Mehta, an Indian army spokesman, claimed that Pakistani soldiers had fired at Indian positions in two sectors earlier in the day and added that there had been no report of casualties.
Muslim-majority Kashmir has been claimed in full by both India and Pakistan since the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.
The restive region has witnessed an increase in mass protests and violent attacks since early July, when Burhan Wani, a top figure in a pro-independence group, was killed in a shootout with Indian troops.
As many as 100 people have so far been killed and several thousands of others injured during clashes between protesters and Indian security personnel.
Relations between India and Pakistan have further been strained in recent months, with New Delhi blaming Islamabad for a raid on an army base in Kashmir in September, which killed 19 soldiers.
Since then, there have been repeated outbreaks of firing across the LoC, with both sides reporting deaths and injuries including of civilians.