Pak soldier shot on LoC, Islamabad protests

LoC
Triggering fresh tension along the Line of Control, a Pakistani soldier who had crossed over into Nowshera sector Thursday afternoon was killed by Army jawans in a nearly three-hour gunbattle. Pakistan condemned the incident, adding that it had the potential "to further vitiate the atmosphere" between the two countries.

An Indian Army spokesman said in New Delhi that the Pakistani soldier had been killed after he intruded into Indian territory in Nowshera sector. His identity was ironically revealed by an unscheduled telephone call by Pakistan's Director General Military Operations (DGMO) to his Indian counterpart Friday morning requesting return of their soldier's body killed in Nowshera. The request came as a surprise as the Indian Army authorities had presumed the infiltrator to be a militant, and handed over the body to the police. Police had taken the body to a hospital in Nowshera for postmortem.

Following Islamabad's request, Indian authorities returned the body during a flag meeting along the LoC Friday.

The incident came nearly a month after the killing of two Indian soldiers by infiltrating

Pakistani troops in an ambush in Mendhar sector. The Pakistanis had mutilated their bodies and taken away the head of one of them.

The killing of the Pakistani soldier "goes against the understanding reached between Pakistan and India on speedy return of inadvertent line crossers and has the potential to further vitiate the atmosphere", Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said. "Pakistan calls upon the government of India to carry out a thorough investigation into this unfortunate incident and to ensure that such incidents do not recur."

Khan also contended that the Pakistani soldier had "lost his way and inadvertently crossed the LoC".

While there was no official confirmation, sources identified the dead soldier as Mohammad Ikhlaq of 652 Mujahideen, Bhimber Brigade, Azad Kashmir Division.

He was wearing a Pakistani army uniform when he sneaked into Indian territory around 2.30 pm. Alert Army jawans at a nearby forward position noticed him and opened fire. The intruder allegedly responded by opening fire from his AK-47 rifle, leading to the gunbattle. The gun along with some ammunition was seized from him.

On Thursday night, Indian LoC positions also came under fire from the Pakistani side for nearly an hour.

with PTI, Islamabad

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