Violence has grown in disputed Kashmir since September attack on Indian soldiers
Both Pakistan and India have nuclear arms
Cross-border shelling hit a passenger bus and killed at least nine people Wednesday in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, police said, as clashes between India and Pakistan escalate in the disputed territory.
The shelling came from the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, and one child was injured in the attack, Neelum Valley police Superintendent Jamil Mir told CNN.
Ten others were injured in the town of Nagdar as the bus traveled to the city of Muzaffarabad.
An Indian defense spokesman in Indian-administered Kashmir, Rajesh Kalia, declined to comment to CNN about the attack.
Indian army spokesman Lt. Col. Manish Mehta said soldiers had been exchanging intense gunfire at Pakistani posts since early Wednesday.
Kalia refused to disclose exactly where the Indian firing has been taking place.
The bus attack comes a day after India said three of its soldiers were killed on its side of Kashmir.
The army’s northern command said Tuesday on Twitter that one of those bodies had been mutilated and vowed “retribution.”
Pakistan accuses India of ‘naked aggression’
In a statement, Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif condemned what he called “the unprovoked firing by Indian security forces on a civil bus carrying innocent civilians.”
He accused India of “naked aggression” along the Line of Control – which divides the two sides of the disputed region – and said it had “failed to comprehend the gravity of the situation.”
The statement added: “India is trying to divert the attention of the international community from the grave human rights violations and atrocities being committed by the Indian security services in the India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
“Pakistan will never abandon their Kashmiri brethren and will continue to support them in their just and legitimate freedom struggle for their right to self-determination. …”
India points to ceasefire violations
India’s director general of military operations, Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh, spoke to his Pakistani counterpart In what was described as an “unscheduled hotline interaction.”
He said he expressed grief at Pakistan casualties but that “retaliatory firing by Indian troops has only been carried out targeting locations from where Pakistan has initiated ceasefire violations on Indian posts.”
Singh also warned that if “any ceasefire violations were initiated by Pakistan troops or any infiltration attempts were made by terrorists from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or territory under its control, it would invite (an) appropriate response by (the) Indian army.”
There has been a steady escalation in tensions over recent months between the neighboring nations – both of which hold nuclear arms – with regular accusations of ceasefire violations and losses of life on both sides. Each nation has accused the other of provocation.
The two countries have been fighting over Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region, since both gained their independence in 1947. China also claims a part of the region.
Pakistan and India have fought two wars over Kashmir – in 1947 and 1965 – and they came close to a third in 1999.
Last week, Pakistani officials said they had evacuated 8,000 villagers while others fled the violence themselves. More evacuations were planned, they said.
In October, India relocated more than 10,000 people from its side as officials accused Pakistani troops of shelling over the border.
The recent bout of violence flared in September when armed militants killed 19 Indian soldiers at an army base in Uri, about 63 miles (102 kilometers) from Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.
In the aftermath, India launched a “surgical strike” across the Line of Control against what it described as a terrorist launching pad. Pakistan denied the target was a terrorist base.