Four Pakistani soldiers killed close to LoC

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Islamabad, Jun 20 (UNI) Pakistan army troops continued operations to track down unknown miscreants, who killed four soldiers in the Hajira sector, close to the Line of Control, till late yesteray, official sources said today.

''An army patrol came under heavy fire from miscreants hiding in thick forest in Batal Area of Hajira Sector yesterday, as a result of which two soldiers died on spot, while another two succumbed to their injuries subsequently,'' local media quoted military officials as saying.

The army patrol had challenged the miscreants, who retaliated with heavy fire. The army later sent reinforcements to deal with the situation.

Sources said the encounter continued till late yesterday. The identity of the miscreants was not known.

Dawn newspaper said this was the most serious incident involving Pakistani troops since Islamabad and Delhi agreed to a ceasefire along the LoC in 2003. The ceasefire has largely held.

A military spokesman emphasised that the incident took place on the Pakistan side of the LoC and no violation had occurred. ''There was no firing from the Indian troops,'' the official said.

The unmarked Line of Control was the scene of regular skirmishes and artillery duels between Indian and Pakistani troops, causing daily casualties, mostly of the civilians, until both sides struck a ceasefire in November 2003.

The incident occurred almost a week ahead of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's first trip to New Delhi, on June 27. Pakistani and Indian officials are set to resume their anti-terror talks in Islamabad next week.

UNI XC RJ BD1345

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