Pakistan claims more Indian ceasefire violations

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan has accused India of another breach of their ceasefire in the disputed Kashmir region, after reporting the death of four civilians in earlier cross-border shelling.

Indian troops opened fire Saturday in the Poonch sector of the Line of Control(LoC), the region's de facto border, using small arms, rockets, mortars and heavy machine gun fire, said a foreign ministry statement in Islamabad.

The statement was issued late Saturday, days after Islamabad summoned the Indian ambassador after what it called an Indian spy drone was shot down in Kashmir.

"It is deeply regretted that once again the ceasefire violations by the Indian troops are being committed during the Eid holidays, as was done by them last year, when many innocent civilians were martyred," the statement said, referring to the Islamic festival which ends Ramadan.

Pakistani officials earlier said Indian fire on Wednesday and Thursday killed four civilians, one in Kashmir itself and three near the town of Sialkot close to the border.

"Pakistan lodges protest at the provocative act, which is against the spirit of the understanding reached at the Ufa meeting, and hopes that the Indian government would observe the understanding reached between the two sides during 2003," its latest statement said, referring to the Saturday incident.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan, but claimed in full by both, since the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.

A border ceasefire agreed in 2003 has largely held, with occasional violations reported from both sides.

After months of stalemate and recriminations in their relationship, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif spoke for about an hour while visiting the city of Ufa in Russia for a summit on July 10.

Modi accepted an invitation from Sharif to visit Pakistan next year, raising hopes of an improvement in perennially difficult relations.

While Sharif did attend Modi's inauguration in May last year, relations soon cooled amid flare-ups in violence along the border in Kashmir.

The two countries have fought two wars over the Himalayan region.