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Pakistan, India break cease-fire, clash in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India — After a decade of relative quiet, Indian and Pakistani troops are shelling each other with vigor again along their disputed border, raising tension between the nuclear-armed nations and forcing hundreds of villagers to flee.

Many fear there is worse to come. As the American military withdraws from Afghanistan, some Pakistan-based militants who had been fighting there have pledged to turn their attention to the Kashmir border region — and their old foe, India. Already, there are signs that militant activity is on the rise in this area, with graffiti appearing saying ‘‘Welcome Taliban.’’

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In recent days, the disputed border that separates much of the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan has turned into a virtual war zone.

A month of cease-fire violations by both sides has resulted in the deaths of at least 11 soldiers and two Pakistani civilians and the wounding of several residents.

‘‘We can’t sleep at night,’’ said one village head, Lal Din, 38. ‘‘Whenever we hear gunshots and mortars we huddle together in the corners of our shacks. We are helpless to do anything to prevent it.’’

The two sides have fought for more than six decades over this hilly and verdant land, which has been at the heart of two of the countries’ three wars.

While few people see the current skirmishes as exploding into a full-scale conflict, the fear of further deterioration is widespread.

‘‘In three or four months, the people fighting in Afghanistan or Pakistan could come here,’’ said Sheikh Younis, 42, who runs a mobile phone shop in a mall in downtown Srinagar, not far from the lotus-fringed lake where tourists take rides in colorful boats. ‘‘People are very concerned about it. What’s going to happen after 2014?’’

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