India says 1 soldier killed in fresh firing across Kashmir border

SRINAGAR, India (AFP) - India said one of its soldiers was killed when Pakistan troops fired early on Monday across the border in Kashmir, the latest in a series of deadly flare-ups in the disputed Himalayan region.

The soldier was killed just after midnight at an army post along the northern part of the heavily militarised border that divides the two countries in Kashmir, an Indian army spokesman said.

India did not fire back and instead lodged a protest with the Pakistani army over a hotline, said the army's spokesman in Srinagar Naresh Vig.

"It is a ceasefire violation. A junior commissioned officer was killed as Pakistani soldiers fired at an Indian army post in Uri sector at 12.15am," Mr Vig told AFP.

The incident came hours after senior officials of the two armies held scheduled phone talks on Sunday aimed at easing tensions in the region, that has recently seen some of the worst firing since a ceasefire agreement a decade ago.

Both sides have accused each other of violating the truce agreed in 2003.

India's Border Security Force said last week that 50 frontier posts had been targeted in an escalation of small arms firing and shelling over the last month - despite public pledges to reduce tensions there.

Pakistan, in turn, accused India of killing a Rangers soldier and two civilians last Wednesday during firing and injuring 26 civilians.

There has been sporadic shooting since 2003 along the border called the Line of Control that separates Kashmir into Indian and Pakistani sectors.

But the recent rise in incidents has caused alarm. The subject was raised up by Indian Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at the United Nations in New York last month, when they pledged to improve conditions to build trust.

The Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided and administered separately by India and Pakistan but claimed in full by both.

It has triggered two of their three wars since independence from Britain in 1947.

About a dozen militant groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence of the territory or for its merger with Pakistan.

The fighting has left tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, dead since then.

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