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World - Asia/Pacific

Pakistani shelling kills Indian soldier in Kashmir

Gra[hic October 6, 1998
Web posted at: 5:08 a.m. EDT (0908 GMT)

JAMMU, India (CNN) -- Pakistani shelling in Kashmir has killed an Indian army captain less than two weeks before the neighbors resume talks on their troubled relations.

An Indian defense spokesman said on Tuesday that Capt. S.K. Sharma died on the Siachen glacier on Monday when he was hit by an artillery splinter fired by Pakistani troops.

After nearly a year, senior diplomats from India and Pakistan are due to hold talks in Islamabad beginning October 15. The discussions will include talks on Kashmir, trade and transport links.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said after talks with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York last month that both countries had agreed to stop shelling in Kashmir.

Since then, at least five people have died in cross-border firing.

The defense spokesman said firing was continuing on Tuesday in some sectors in Kashmir along the 720-km (450-mile) cease- fire line dividing the region between India and Pakistan.

Heavy shelling despite cease-fire

Pakistani troops fired 1,750 rounds of small arms fire and 192 mortar bombs on Indian posts in the glacier area on Monday, while the mountainous Kargil enclave was hit by 150 bombs and 720 rounds of fire, he said.

Police said that in addition to the death of the army captain, eight others were wounded Monday.

"Militants detonated a land mine at Banihal, causing the death of a security force personnel and injuries to three others on Sunday night," a police spokesman said.

Banihal village lies in Doda district, 350 km (220 miles) southeast of the state's summer capital Srinagar.

Police said five security force personnel were also wounded on Sunday evening when separatist guerrillas lobbed a grenade in Idgah, a suburb of Srinagar.

In Jammu, Muslim demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans and closed down business establishments in protest at alleged excesses by paramilitary forces in the border district of Rajouri.

War rages on top of the world

Located some 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) above sea level in Jammu and Kashmir, the Siachen Glacier is the world's highest battlefield, an icy no-man's land where the arch-rivals are wrestling for strategic control.

Kargil is some 125 miles (200 km) east of Srinagar, summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, mainly Hindu India's only Muslim-majority province. Jammu is the winter capital.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the divided Kashmir region, two-thirds of which is ruled by New Delhi and the rest by Islamabad.

Intermittent border firing has increased since the neighbors held nuclear tests in May.

At least 25,000 troops, guerrillas and civilians have died in Kashmir since a separatist revolt against Indian rule began eight years ago.

India says Pakistan arms and trains the separatist rebels, a charge Islamabad denies.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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