Sniper fire by India killed a woman outside her home in the border village of Abbaspur, in Pakistan-held Kashmir, a Pakistani police official said Monday.
Police chief Zulqarnain Chaudhry said the woman was killed on Sunday and that the fire came from the Indian sector, across the boundary in the disputed Himalayan region.
Although Pakistan and India often exchange fire in Kashmir, the latest incident took place as U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan, along with Ambassador Paul Jones, charge d’ affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, were visiting Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
A Foreign Ministry statement said the purpose of the visit was to see the ground situation and gauge public sentiment following Aug. 5 “illegal Indian actions” in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Hollen and Hassan met with President Masood Khan and Prime Minister Farooq Haider of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, who both urged the senators to play a role in saving the people of Kashmir from India’s repressive measures and pressing India to resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Tensions in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India but claimed by both, have escalated since Aug. 5, when India downgraded the autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir and imposed a lockdown. Rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called on India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.
Pakistani authorities Sunday evening halted hundreds of Kashmiris belonging to a pro-independence group from approaching the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border that divides disputed Kashmir between Pakistan and Indian.
The protesters gathered on Friday in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and by Sunday the “Freedom March” had reached the Jiskool area, located some 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the Line of Control.
There the local administration blocked the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar highway by placing containers and barbed wires, stopping the marchers from going forward.
The march was organized by the Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir chapter of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a group led by incarcerated pro-independence leader Yasin Malik.
“The administration has blocked the road and not allowed us toward the LoC,” Rafiq Dar, the front’s spokesman, told Anadolu Agency over the phone.
According to local media, the local administration told the marchers that they would not allow them any further as Indian forces could target them.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday warned against any “emotional” attempt by the people to cross the Line of Control, as any such attempt could hurt Kashmiris’ struggle.
Indian authorities claim that daytime restrictions have been lifted in 93% of the region, a claim Anadolu Agency could not verify independently.
From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian Constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws.
The provisions also barred outsiders from settling in or owning land in the territory.
India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in part and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.