An Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldier carries a sniper rifle weapon near the India-Pakistan international border at an undisclosed location in Jammu and Kashmir, 24 September 2016.
Photograph: EPA/STR

Indian troops entered Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to carry out strikes against militant units, officials confirmed Thursday, as border states went on high alert and tensions ratcheted up ever higher in the disputed region.

While firing around the border area by Indian and Pakistani troops is common, it is rare for either side to publicly reveal the details of cross-border operations.

Pakistan had denied what India described as "surgical strikes" and said instead that two of its soldiers were killed and nine injured in unprovoked firing by India across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.

The LoC is the disputed military frontier that has divided the Himalayan region into parts administered by either India or Pakistan since the two countries became independent in the late 1940s.

Thursday's claims and counter-claims come 10 days after troubled relations between the two countries worsened further when 18 Indian soldiers were killed in a militant attack on an Indian Army base in Uri in India's Jammu and Kashmir state.

India said the attackers came from Pakistan.

The Indian Army had conducted the strikes to neutralize terrorists who had gathered along the LoC, India's director general of military operations, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, said.

"During these counter-terrorist operations significant casualties have been inflicted on the terrorists and those trying to support them," Singh said at a briefing in the Indian capital New Delhi.

Later, an Indian government official said several teams of Indian commandoes had crossed the LoC on foot after midnight and attacked at least six bases where the militants had grouped.

It was not clear how many casualties there were among the militants or Pakistan Army soldiers, who Indian intelligence claims support the militants by firing artillery across the LoC. The dead could go into double digits, the source said on condition of anonymity.

No Indian soldiers were hurt in the four-hour operation, the source said.

The Pakistan Army denied the ground attack and said Indian troops fired across the LoC into the areas of Bhimber, Kel, Tatta Pani and Lipa shortly after midnight.

"The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by India," Pakistan Army spokesman General Asim Bajwa said, adding that it was an attempt to create media hype.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the "unprovoked firing" across the border by Indian troops and called it naked aggression.

"Our intent for a peaceful neighbourhood should not be mistaken as our weakness," Sharif said in a statement in Pakistan capital Islamabad. "Our valiant forces are fully capable of defending the territorial integrity of the country."

India's Singh said that the operations "to neutralize the terrorists" had ceased and there were no plans of continuing the operations. "However, the Indian armed forces are fully prepared for any contingency that may arise."

Singh said he had talked to his Pakistan counterpart immediately after the operation.

Four Indian states bordering Pakistan - Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat - were on high alert and villages along the border in Punjab state were being evacuated, a Home Ministry official said.

The beating the retreat ceremony that takes place at two border posts in Punjab had been suspended till further notice.

The latest spat over Kashmir has had regional implications as several countries joined India in withdrawing from a key South Asia summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November.

The conflict over Kashmir has historical roots that go back to the two countries' independence from Britain in 1947, and a decision by Kashmir's Hindu ruler to join India rather than Pakistan despite the overall Muslim majority.

The rival, nuclear-armed South Asian powers have fought two wars over the region.

An estimated 100 people, mostly civilians, have died on both sides in border skirmishes since early 2013.

Both New Delhi and Islamabad accuse each other's troops of violating a 2003 ceasefire agreement.

Latest news

SpaceX plans to fly two passengers around moon, NASA involved

SpaceX is planning to fly two private citizens around the moon next year, the first manned trip to the Earth's only natural satellite in more than four decades, the private company said Monday.

Key congressman has 'no evidence' of Trump contacts with Russia

The chairman of the US House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee said he is not aware of any evidence of improper contacts between Russian officials and Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Gambia's new President Barrow fires army chief

Gambia's new President Adama Barrow has sacked army chief Ousman Badjie, replacing him with a presidential military aide.

Star investor Buffett takes a bigger bite of Apple, doubling shares

Stock market guru Warren Buffett on Monday revealed that his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway doubled its share of iPhone producer Apple stocks last month.

Minister: Erdogan not welcome in Austria for referendum campaign

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should not come to Austria to campaign to Turkish citizens living there ahead of a constitutional reform referendum in his country, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Monday.

Migrant group: Britain hits 'new low' by deporting grandmother

Britain has hit a "new low" by deporting a grandmother from north-eastern England to Singapore, a migrants' rights group said on Monday.

Turkish judge remands German reporter in custody

A Turkish judge remanded German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in custody Monday, according to newspaper Die Welt, sparking strong condemnation from the German government and rights organizations.

1.4 million people without water after deadly floods in Chile

More than 1.4 million people were without drinking water in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday following catastrophic flooding that left at least three people dead.

Serbia PM says no snap parliamentary election

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that an early parliamentary election would not be held simultaneously with a presidential vote, although the state leadership had announced such a possibility.  

Trump touts 'security budget' with 10-per-cent defence spending hike

US President Donald Trump says he will present a "public security and national security budget" that hikes military spending by 54 billion dollars or about 10 per cent.

National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen fined for Roma comments

The founder of France's far-right National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, had a 5,000-euro (5,300-dollar) fine for inciting racial hatred and discrimination confirmed on appeal on Monday.

Croatia-Montenegro relations example for region, says minister

After meeting Croatian Ambassador Veselko Grubisic in Podgorica on Monday, Montenegrin Defence Minister Predrag Boskovic said that relations between Croatia and Montenegro were very good and could serve as an example to other countries in the region.

Over 31,000 South Sudanese flee fighting and hunger to Sudan

Fleeing escalating fighting and famine in South Sudan, over 31,000 people have arrived in neighbouring Sudan so far this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday.

SDP urges gov't to pull statement making radical turn in human rights

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Monday called on the government to take a position on the Croatian foreign policy's turn in human rights, which it said was initiated by Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier, and to withdraw a Foreign Ministry statement on that sent to Brussels.

Police says photoshopped photo of Milanka Opacic motivated by hate

An investigation has proved that a photograph showing Parliament Deputy Speaker Milanka Opacic wearing a shirt with four Cyrillic letters "S" (standing for "only unity saves the Serb", a popular motto and slogan in Serbia and among Serb nationalists) is a photomontage and the police suspect that publishing and distributing the said photo has been motivated by hate and intolerance.

Finance Ministry says didn't analyse HEP's readiness for IPO

The Ministry of Finance on Monday announced that it had not analysed the justification or the readiness of power provider Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) for an initial public offering with regard to a possible acquisition of Hungarian energy company MOL's stake in Croatia's INA.

Berlin confirms murder of German hostage in the Philippines

Berlin confirmed on Monday the murder of a German hostage by the militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines with Chancellor Angela Merkel condemning the killing as "barbaric" and "abominable".

Syrian refugees arrive in Italy with help from Christian groups

A group of 50 Syrian refugees, more than half of them children, landed in Italy early Monday, entering the country on humanitarian visas obtained with the help of a lay Catholic NGO, Protestant organizations and the Italian government.