Thousands Flee amid India-Pak Clashes

Thousands Flee amid India-Pak ClashesThousands Flee amid India-Pak Clashes

Thousands of Indians fled their homes in the disputed Kashmir region on Tuesday as Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged gunfire again, a day after the highest civilian death toll in a single day in more than a decade, Reuters reported.

The mostly Muslim, Himalayan region of Kashmir is claimed by both India and Pakistan and has been a major focus of tension in South Asia. The two countries have fought two wars over the territory and clashes break out regularly along their de facto border, the so-called Line of Control.

About 7,000 residents living around the village of Arnia area in Indian-controlled Kashmir gathered in schools after five Indian civilians were killed and dozens injured in shelling by Pakistani forces close to the border, according to government officials in Jammu, a region of Kashmir.

The Indian and Pakistani militaries have traded machine-gun fire and mortar attacks for about a week, in skirmishes that cast a shadow over attempts to improve ties between the rivals.

Pakistan forces fired at 40 Indian army posts early on Tuesday and Indian forces retaliated with gunfire and mortar bombs.

India and Pakistan continued to exchange small-arms fire in the Poonch area on Tuesday afternoon, according to a spokesman for the Indian army.

"What we are seeing on the border is unusual in terms of its ferocity and the sudden eruption in violence," said Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research based in New Delhi. "This is not the average tit for tat that we have seen in the past on the border."

India says Pakistan supports separatist militants that cross the Line of Control from the Pakistan side to attack Indian forces. Pakistan says India's military is abusing the human rights of Muslim Kashmiris.

The officials of the two nations on Tuesday accused each other's army of unprovoked violations of their border truce, as goodwill that had built up after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May evaporated in the face of several weeks of sporadic fighting.