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    Pakistan, India clash across Kashmir border

    US drones kill 12 in Waziristan, officials say

    An Indian soldier looked through a spotting scope at a military camp north of Srinagar as troops battled gunmen in August 2011.
    AFP/Getty Images file August 2011
    An Indian soldier looked through a spotting scope at a military camp north of Srinagar as troops battled gunmen in August 2011.

    ISLAMABAD — Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged gunfire across the disputed Kashmir border early Sunday, leaving one Pakistani soldier dead in a relatively rare fatal confrontation between the two neighbors.

    As usual, the rival armies, which have been engaged in a faceoff in Kashmir for decades, disagreed about who started the shooting or what happened next. Pakistan said Indian troops crossed the disputed boundary, known as the Line of Control, into Pakistani-controlled territory, where they attacked a remote outpost and wounded two soldiers, one of whom later died.

    ‘‘Our army troops effectively responded and repulsed the attack successfully,’’ said a Pakistani military spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. ‘‘Indian army troops left behind a gun and a dagger.’’


    But the Indian military said that its troops had not crossed into Pakistani territory and that it was only responding to an unprovoked Pakistani shelling across the Line of Control that destroyed a civilian house.

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    ‘‘None of our troops crossed the Line of Control,’’ Colonel Jagadish Dahiya, an Indian army spokesman, told Reuters. ‘‘We have no casualties or injuries.’’

    The clash was an unusual breach of an almost decade-long cease-fire that has largely held between the two rivals, whose leaders have concentrated on building economic and diplomatic ties.

    In the last major shooting, in September 2011, Pakistan claimed to have lost three soldiers while India said one of its officers was killed. There have been other, smaller, clashes in recent months.

    But in the last year, encouraging signs have emerged that relations are thawing. The two countries have eased travel restrictions for Kashmiris living on both sides of the de facto border and introduced encouraging economic initiatives intended to foster bilateral trade.


    It was unclear whether Sunday’s clash would affect any of that. The Pakistani cricket team is visiting India, and on Sunday, a match was played between the two sides in New Delhi, the Indian capital.

    Still, military and ideological hard-liners in both countries consider the bitter conflict over Kashmir, which erupted just after independence in 1947, as the core issue that needs to be resolved. Pakistan and India, both of which claim the mountainous territory in its entirety, have fought two wars over the region. Pakistan said that Sunday’s clash occurred at a remote post in the Bagh district, more than 50 miles east of the capital, Islamabad.

    One encouraging sign is that the recent warming of relations could not have taken place without approval from Pakistan’s generals, who are increasingly absorbed by the fight against Islamist militants along their western border with Afghanistan.

    That fight has been complicated by strained relations with the United States. On Sunday the Central Intelligence Agency continued to press its drone strike campaign in Waziristan, with three missile attacks against suspected militant bases that killed at least 12 people, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

    In one strike, in South Waziristan, a remotely piloted US aircraft fired 10 missiles into a suspected Pakistani Taliban training camp, one intelligence official said, speaking by phone on the condition of anonymity.


    A senior Taliban militant, speaking by phone from Waziristan on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the strike. Three senior Taliban commanders were believed to have died, he said, including one who had coordinated a jailbreak in Bannu last year that allowed 390 inmates to escape.

    Another commander who is believed to have died, Wali Muhammad, also known as Tuffani Mehsud, was considered to be the leader of the Pakistani Taliban’s suicide bomber squad. ‘‘It is a major blow to our organization,’’ the Taliban militant said.

    Mehsud’s predecessor, Qari Husain Mehsud, was believed to have been killed in a US missile strike in late 2011.

    Mahsud was part of the Pakistani Taliban that have waged war against the Pakistani state by targeting army, police, government officials, civilians and even religious leaders who wouldn’t agree to their interpretation of Islam.