Indian army officer killed in Kashmir by Pakistani troops' firing

SRINAGAR, India (AFP) - Pakistani troops shot and killed an Indian army officer on Friday near the countries' disputed border in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, an Indian army officer said.

Friday's firing incident came two days after Pakistan's parliament elected Mr Nawaz Sharif as prime minister and he promised to seek good relations with neighbouring India.

Mr Sharif said after taking the reins that his government would "progressively pursue" good relations with India while actively seeking solutions to issues with India like disputed Kashmir.

"A junior commanding officer was shot dead by the Pakistani troops near Poonch sector," a senior army official said in New Delhi.

"Suddenly there was firing from the other side and our officer was killed," the officer added, requesting anonymity.

The dead man, named as Mr Bachan Singh was posted in Poonch region at Saujaya, 200 km southwest of Indian-administered Kashmir's summer capital of Srinagar.

Another senior army officer, Mr Rajesh Kalia, stationed in Kashmir, said the latest attack had "not been declared as a ceasefire violation" along the heavily militarised frontier as a probe was still under way.

The Indian army retaliated in a "controlled manner and the area is calm now", he added.

A Pakistani military spokesman categorically denied the allegation.

"No Pakistani troops carried out any firing across the LoC on Indian positions," he said in a statement.

Anti-Indian militant groups who have been operating in Kashmir for more than two decades are also known to be active in the area.

Kashmir is divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbours along the UN-monitored, Line of Control (LoC), but both countries claim the region in full and have fought two of their three wars over it.

India and Pakistan regularly accuse each other of violating a ceasefire along the LoC, which has largely held since 2003.

The first back-to-back transition of democratically elected national government in Pakistan has generated fresh hopes of peace and economic cooperation between the South Asian rivals.

Tensions spiked between New Delhi and Islamabad early this year when a total of six soldiers were killed in exchanges along the de facto border in Kashmir.

Four of the soldiers killed were from Pakistan while two were from India.

One of the Indians was beheaded allegedly by Pakistanis, a charge rejected by Islamabad.

Relations between the two countries have also been strained in recent months by both sides protesting the deaths of prisoners held by the other.

The murder of an Indian prisoner in a Pakistani jail was followed by the tit-for-tat killing of a Pakistani prisoner in an Indian jail last month.