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Nine people killed in fresh violence on Kashmir border

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — At least nine people have been killed in cross-border fire in Kashmir, officials said, raising the death toll in recent days as New Delhi eased a curfew and restrictions on communications in the troubled region.

Tensions between India and Pakistan, the nuclear rivals, escalated after India scrapped its autonomy in Kashmir in August and imposed restrictions on movement and communications to quell unrest.

Officials from both countries have accused each other of firing mortars at the Line of Control, which is the de facto border between the two Himalayan parts of Kashmir.

“Two soldiers and a civilian were killed and three others were injured in a provocative shooting by Pakistan,” army spokesman Rajesh Kalya told AFP.

Several houses were destroyed in the attack and three civilians were taken to hospitals for treatment, he said.

Officials in Pakistan-administered Kashmir said six civilians were killed and eight wounded in Muzaffarabad and the Neelam valley.

Badr Munir, deputy inspector of police in Muzaffarabad, said that “mortar shells hit civilian houses and so far five people have been killed and six others wounded.”

Munir said the death toll included three people from the same family.

The Neelam Valley official Akhtar Ayub said one civilian was killed and two civilians wounded in the bombing.

The incident comes days after five people were killed in Kashmir on Wednesday, two days after India restored mobile phone services and text messages.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence in 1947. The two countries have fought two wars over it and often clashes erupt border.

Indian Kashmir has been ravaged by a separatist insurgency since 1989, which has claimed more than 70,000 lives, mostly civilians. The separatist rebels want independence or join Pakistan.

India accuses its neighbor of supporting armed groups in the northern Srinagar valley, a charge Pakistan has always denied.

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