India, Pakistan Exchange Heavy Fire Across Kashmir Border

By T.C. Malhotra | July 7, 2008 | 8:11 PM EDT

New Delhi ( - For the first time since tensions flared in Kashmir's Kargil sector in 1999, Pakistani forces Monday bombarded a town on the Indian side of the border. Army officials here said that at least 240 Pakistani soldiers had been killed and 75 bunkers destroyed in retaliatory Indian fire over the past ten days.

Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani said Pakistan had already declared war on India through its support of anti-India terrorism, and he said India had to find a new way of retaliating.

"The time has come to adopt another way to fight the war," he said, noting that the conflict had been going on for two decades.

"The situation is challenging, not normal ... an ordinary war goes on for two or three weeks."

As western attempts to pull the South Asian nations back from the brink of war continued, British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke Monday to his Indian counterpart, Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Vajpayee told Blair India's patience was wearing thin, and he accused Pakistan of failing to keep its promise to curb cross-border terrorism.

Pakistan leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf had not made good on his promises of last January to stop militants from attacking Indian targets, prompting "national anger," he said.

"This time we would expect any promises made by him to be translated into action and this should be verifiable on the ground," he was quoted as telling Blair.

An attack on India's parliament last December, followed by an assault on Indian soldiers and their families in Kashmir on May 14 have pushed tensions toward breaking point. India accuses Pakistan of sponsoring militants fighting to end Indian rule in part of disputed Kashmir.

Adding to the sense of crisis, Pakistan on Sunday and again early Tuesday tested missiles for the second and third times since the weekend.

The missiles tested were newly-developed short range one capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The Indian government said earlier it was "not impressed" with Pakistan's missile tests.

Defense spokesman P. K. Bandyopadhyay said the test-firings were clearly aimed at Musharraf's domestic constituency. "It also indicates some kind of nervousness on the part of the Pakistan establishment."

Pakistan announced that the Hatf missile was indigenously-built, but regional defense experts say all of Pakistan's ballistic missiles were developed with help from China and North Korea in the mid-90s.

President Bush Sunday challenged Musharraf to "show results" in the drive to prevent terrorists from carrying out attacks in Kashmir.

That issue, he said, was more important than Pakistan's missile tests.

"Stopping terrorism ... is more important than the missile testing," he said in Paris after meeting with French President Jacques Chirac.

E-mail a news tip to the Foreign Desk.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.