Pakistani soldier killed in border firefight, says India

SRINAGAR, India (AFP) - The Indian army said on Friday its troops killed a Pakistani soldier who strayed onto its side of a disputed border in the Kashmir region.

"We detected some suspicious movement yesterday near the LoC (Line of Control) inside our territory, and the challengers from our side fired and in the ensuing firefight he was killed," northern command army spokesman Rajesh Kalia told AFP.

"At that time, we did not know he was a Pakistani soldier. We killed an infiltrator," Mr Kalia added.

He said India expected to return the body to the Pakistani authorities later in the day.

A Pakistani official confirmed that contact had been made with the Indian authorities for the return of the body of the soldier, identified only as Ikhlaq.

The soldier "inadvertently crossed the Line of Control in Khoi Ratta sector" and had "reportedly been killed by Indians", the Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

It was the first fatal exchange between troops in the region since the two armies agreed on a ceasefire on Jan 16.

A flare-up along the LoC in early January saw a total of five soldiers killed, three from Pakistan and two from India.

The Indian government expressed outrage after one of its soldiers was beheaded, although the Pakistani army denied responsibility for the decapitation.

Cross-border trade and transport links were also suspended for several weeks although they have since resumed.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir. Each administers part of the territory but claims the whole of Kashmir.