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Border firing: India to lodge protest

india Updated: May 09, 2008 16:02 IST

India will lodge a protest with Pakistan after soldiers came under heavy cross-border fire while trying to stop a group of armed men from sneaking into its part of Kashmir, a security official said on Friday.

The firing took place in Samba sector, 400 km (250 miles) south of Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's main city, late on Thursday night, minutes after border guards saw the intruders cutting part of a barbed wire fence. Indian soldiers fired back, the official said.

"We are not yet sure whether it was terrorist fire or Pakistani troops, but we are lodging a protest with Pakistan anyway," K. Srinivasan, a senior Border Security Force (BSF) official told Reuters.

The incident comes ahead of Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Pakistan later this month for a review of a four-year-old peace process between the two countries.

A truce between India and Pakistan came into effect along the military Line of Control in November 2003 as part of peace efforts between the two nuclear-armed rivals and violations have been rare.

Indian officials say separatist militants fighting New Delhi's rule in the Himalayan region are still trying to cross the border from Pakistani Kashmir but violence has steadily dropped after the neighbours launched a peace process in 2004.

"The militants were prevented from entering India and we have strengthened security there," Ashish Kumar Mitra, chief of the BSF, India's main border security agency said about the latest incident.

Since the peace process began, the two sides have made little progress over Kashmir which they claim in full but rule in parts.