An Indian Junior Commissioned Officer and three Pakistani soldiers were killed in first major violation of ceasefire in Kashmir valley this year, when troops from the two sides traded heavy gunfire, officials said.
The violation took place in the key Keran sector in north Kashmir, which is the major ingress route of the militants from across the border and comes on the heels of another big infiltration bid from the adjacent Gurez sector.
"There were two ceasefire violations in Keran sector of Kupwara district from across the Line of Control since 8 pm on Wednesday," Defence spokesman Lt Colonel J S Brar said adding that heavy mortars and machine guns were used.
The JCO, who was killed, was identified by the army as Naib Subedar Gurdayal Singh.
Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told Geo News in Islamabad that three Pakistani soldiers were killed in the gun battle. He claimed that Indian forces had fired across the border "unprovoked".
He identified the soldiers as belonging to irregular Mujahid battalion.
Abbas said the soldiers had been moving between forward posts when they got lost in bad weather in the Neelam valley. He said a meeting has been requested with local Indian commanders to investigate the violation.
Reacting to Pakistan army's claim, Brar said there was no ceasefire violation from Indian side.
"There was an infiltration bid by militants in Keran sector which was foiled by our troops. We lost one JCO in the operation," Brar said.
Brar later said the Pakistani troops twice violated the ceasefire by shelling forward posts.
The first ceasefire violation took place at 8 pm on Wednesday and the firing from other side of Line of Control continued for nearly 50 minutes.
The second ceasefire violation began at 11 am on Thursday and the exchange of fire was continuing till last reports came in, he said.
Official sources said the Pakistani troops stationed at Saheli post opened unprovoked firing at Shalapathri post on Indian side of LoC Wednesday, leaving a soldier injured.
The sources said the ceasefire violations from Pakistani side were apparently aimed at giving cover to militants trying to infiltrate into Kashmir ahead of snowfall which will close all passes along the rugged terrain of LoC.