New Delhi - India on Friday lodged a "strong protest" with Pakistan after its border guards came under heavy fire from suspected Muslim militants attempting to cross into India-administered Kashmir, news reports said.
The firing took place in the Samba sector, 400 kilometres south of state capital Srinagar, on Thursday night after soldiers from the Border Security Force (BSF) spotted militants cutting the barbed wire fence at the international border.
A group of 12 armed militants waiting to infiltrate into the Indian side opened indiscriminate fire at the BSF personnel, after which the gunbattle erupted, the PTI news agency reported.
The exchange of fire lasted for 15 minutes and the militants fired nearly 1,000 rounds and hurled 16 grenades at the BSF post - making it the biggest incident of firing at the borders since a ceasefire between the two countries in 2003.
Indian officials accused the Pakistani Rangers of facilitating the infiltration bid saying they provided cover to the militants, the NDTV network reported.
There were no reports of casualties from the Indian side, which foiled the infiltration bid as the militants retreated into Pakistan.
"BSF authorities met their counterparts at the company commander level flag meeting at Bangalard border outpost Friday morning and lodged a strong protest with them over heavy firing at the post," a senior BSF official told the PTI.
During the meeting, the BSF officials gave details of the firing from the Pakistani side, while the Pakistani authorities denied their involvement and blamed the militants for it.
BSF also raised the point of violation of the India-Pakistan border truce but Pakistani rangers denied it.
Another flag meeting has been scheduled where a formal protest letter would be handed to the Pakistani side.
"We will take this up very strongly. We have requested for another flag meeting... because the militants came from Pakistani soil and fled back to Pakistan," Deputy Inspector General of the BSF, JB Sangwan told reporters.
The incident comes ahead of Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Islamabad later this month for a review of a four-year-old peace dialogue between the neighbours.
Soon after beginning the cease-fire in November 2003, India and Pakistan resumed a peace process in 2004 to resolve eight contentious issues including the dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
Kashmir has been at the root of tense relations between the South Asian neighbours since their independence from British rule in 1947. India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.
An estimated 40,000 people - civilians, militants and security forces - have been killed in militant-related violence in India-administered Kashmir since 1990.
India says that militants trained and supported by Pakistan regularly infiltrate into its part of Kashmir to launch major attacks. Pakistan, however, denies the charge and calls Kashmiri militants freedom fighters. (dpa)
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