India – Kashmir — Forest fire triggers landmine explosions on Kashmir LoC
SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Oct. 3 (Xinhua)– Several landmines exploded on Saturday along the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border dividing Kashmir into India and Pakistan controlled parts, police said.
The explosions took place in Phagwari area of Mendhar tehsil in frontier Poonch district, around 180 km southwest of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir. “The fire started from the other side (Pakistan-controlled Kashmir) of LoC last night and spread to this side, triggering explosions of some landmines planted in the area,”Shahid Hussain, a police officer posted in Mendhar, told Xinhua over telephone.
So far, no loss of life or injuries due to fire or landmine explosions were reported from the area.
“Local residents told us the fire has engulfed the forest area and they are hearing sound of blasts intermittently,” the officer said.
The 720-km-long cease-fire line dividing Kashmir is said to be heavily mined by anti-personnel mines.
In 2007, a Srinagar based civil rights group, Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), organized a series of year-long activities calling for a ban on the use of anti-personnel mines in Kashmir.
The alliance also lobbied with governments in New Delhi and Islamabad for the de-mining of the ceasefire line and encouraged them to consider a moratorium on the new mine usage and launching of comprehensive mine clearance programs in their respective regions.
However, the respective governments are yet to announce any such move.
Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan, is claimed by both in full. Since their independence from Britain, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.
A guerilla war is going on between militants and Indian troops stationed in the region since 1989.