- (AFP) - At least 60,000 Indians have fled their homes
in the last five days amid heavy shelling and a massive buildup of troops
on both sides of the Pakistan-India border in Kashmir, a state minister
Kashmir Housing Minister Ghulam M Shah said the state administration was
battling to provide food and shelter to the thousands who had evacuated
their villages near India's shared border with Pakistan.
"We are faced with an alarming exodus of villagers from the tense
India-Pakistan border," said Shah.
"We have built hundreds of makeshift camps in 27 government schools
and colleges. We have created an emergency 10-million-rupee (210,000 dollar)
fund for housing and relief operations," he added.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have soared since a bloody December
13 assault on India's parliament, which New Delhi accuses Pakistan's military
intelligence of masterminding. Islamabad denies the allegation.
The attack, and the rhetoric that followed, had prompted both sides to
amass troops along their border and engage in cross-border shelling.
At least two civilians were injured when Pakistani troops fired shells
across the tense Line of Control (LoC) which divides disputed Kashmir,
Indian army Brigadier P.C Das told AFP Sunday.
"Pakistani troops have been shelling the border districts of Poonch
and Rajouri in Jammu. There have also been bursts of machine-gun firing
in the Samba, R.S Pura, Pallanwalla and Akhnoor sectors," said Das.
"There has been considerable damage to civilian houses and property,"
The two nuclear-capable rivals regularly exchange fire in the Kashmir region,
but the incidents have become more frequent in recent days as tensions
India has also started a massive mine-laying exercise near the Line of
One Indian soldier was killed and five others injured Sunday in Jammu when
landmines they were laying along the border with Pakistan accidentally
exploded, an army official said.
Another 19 Indian soldiers were killed Friday near a border post at Gamnewala,
around 70 kilometres (44 miles) from Jaisalmer town in the western desert
state of Rajasthan in accidental landmine explosions.
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