India summoned Pakistan’s envoy in New Delhi Wednesday to protest the killing of two soldiers in a border clash, but warned against any escalation, after apparent tit-for-tat skirmishes that have led to deaths on both sides. The two Indian soldiers died after a firefight erupted in disputed Kashmir on Tuesday as a patrol moving in fog discovered Pakistani troops about 500 metres (yards) inside Indian territory, according to the Indian army. As India called for an investigation from Pakistan, a senior military official in Islamabad denied that its troops had been involved in any attack and accused India of “propaganda” to divert attention from a deadly raid on Sunday. Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said Pakistan’s ambassador in New Delhi Salman Bashir had been “spoken to in very strong terms,” but he struck a note of caution and warned against further moves to inflame tensions. “Whatever has happened, should not be escalated. We cannot and must not allow for an escalation of a very unwholesome event that has taken place,” Khurshid told a press conference. Indian authorities said the body of one of the soldiers was “badly mutilated,” while newspapers and a military source speaking to AFP indicated that he had been decapitated. The bodies of both men have been brought to an army hospital in Rajouri in northern India where a post-mortem will confirm the extent of their injuries, army spokesman Rajesh Kalia told AFP. “Pakistan army’s action is highly provocative. The way they treated the dead body of the soldiers, Indian soldiers, is inhuman,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony told reporters on Wednesday. Pakistan’s army accused Indian troops of attacking a border post on Sunday and killing a soldier and wounding another. As Indian army sources suggested Tuesday’s attack could be a retaliation, a Pakistani official rejected allegations of “cross LoC (Line of Control) firing by Pakistani troops and killing any Indian soldier. ”He added: “Indian authorities were informed that Pakistan has carried out ground verification and checked and found nothing of this sort happened as being alleged by India.”Khurshid has suggested the attack was designed to “derail” an already fragile peace process between the nuclear-armed neighbours which have fought three wars since independence in 1947. Relations between political leaders of both countries had been slowly improving following a rupture after the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which India blamed on Pakistan-based militants. Steps such as opening up trade and offering more lenient visa regimes have been a feature of recent high-level talks. Observers said a freeze on high-level dialogue would be among the options for the Indian government. “The minimum India can do is to summon the Pakistani ambassador,” former Indian foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh told AFP. “Functional dialogue like trade negotiations and so on should continue, because it is in India’s interest, but we should suspend high-profile dialogue… until we get a satisfactory response from Pakistan.”Newspaper headlines stoked the tensions, with the Mail Today denouncing “Pak Army Butchers” while the Hindustan Times reported the second soldier had his throat slit. The clash took place in Mendhar sector, 173 km (107 miles) west of the city of Jammu, the winter capital of the state. Army sources said there had been further exchanges along the de facto border on Tuesday night which caused no damage and the border was calm on Wednesday. “The Line of Control is steady and stable,” Brigadier G. S. Sangha, one of the army’s most senior officers in Kashmir, told AFP. A ceasefire has been in place since 2003 along the Line of Control in Kashmir that has divided the countries, but it is periodically violated by both sides. Muslim-majority Kashmir is a Himalayan region that India and Pakistan both claim in full but rule in part. It was the cause of two of their three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. (AFP)]]>


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