September 17, 2015 / 5:44 PM / in 2 years

Pakistan accuses India of killing three civilians in border shelling

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan accused Indian troops of firing shells across the disputed border in Kashmir on Thursday and killing three civilians as tensions ran high in both countries just weeks after they called off high-level peace talks.

Frontier clashes have intensified in recent months and the latest violence will put more strain on ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Nazakat Hussain, an administration official in Nakyal near the Line of Control, a ceasefire line dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, said shelling started at around five p.m. and was still continuing.

“It is intense and has caused the death of a 12-year-old girl, a 19-year-old boy and a 50-year-old man after mortar shells landed on their homes,” Hussain said.

Officials said two people had been wounded and casualties could increase.

The two countries have fought three wars since independence, two over Kashmir, and relations chilled again after the election of the right-winger Narendra Modi as Indian prime minister last year.

Last month India called off peace talks with Pakistan, giving a jolt to renewed diplomatic efforts between the neighbors and adding to the troubles of Pakistan’s government.

The move came barely three months after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the inauguration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the pair shaking hands in a gesture that had raised hopes of warmer ties.

India has for years complained that Pakistan backs separatist militants who slip in from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir to stage attacks.

Pakistan says it only gives political support to the Muslim people of Kashmir, who it says face human rights abuses at the hands of Indian troops. India denies that.

Reporting by Abu Arqam Naqash; Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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