The shelling of a school van in the disputed region of Kashmir on Friday has resulted in the death of the driver, and the wounding of 8 children.
The Pakistani school van was carrying 20 private school students aged between 10 and 15 years old in the Pakistan administered sector of Nakyal when it came under fire from Indian troops.
The Pakistani government has stated that Pakistani troops quickly responded by firing upon Indian posts which were believed to be the source of the shelling.
A Pakistani official has spoken out about the casualties, saying that five girls and three boys were wounded, and that the driver was killed. The News, a Pakistani newspaper, has put the number higher, claiming that there were ten students injured.
The wounded children were rushed to the local Nakyal hospital as the shelling continued in the area. A doctor has said that despite the children suffering shrapnel injuries, none were in life-threatening conditions.
Shortly after the incident, the Pakistani army released a statement claiming that the shelling was a violation of a 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan to stop firing across the ‘Line of Control’ between the Pakistani and Indian controlled areas of Kashmir. This is nothing new, however, with Pakistan’s high commissioner to India having alleged last year that India had violated the ceasefire more than 400 times since its introduction.
Despite having no initial comments after the attack, an Indian army spokesman later claimed that Pakistani troops had been the first to open fire across the Line of Control, and that the Indian army had only responded.
The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, yet both countries claim to have a right to the region as a whole. Two out of the three wars that the countries have fought since their independence in 1947 have been over the region.
These already high tensions were recently heightened in September after an attack on an army base in an Indian controlled area of Kashmir killed 18 soldiers. The attack was blamed on separatists allegedly operating out of Pakistan.
Since then, firing across the Line of Control by both sides has increased, with dozens of fatalities and many more wounded. One such incident in November resulted in the death of nine civilians and the injury of seven when a passenger bus was caught in cross-border fire in the Pakistani section of Kashmir.
The animosity between India and Pakistan runs very deep, and this recent clash is unlikely to be the last in their long and bloody contention over the control of Kashmir.
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