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U.S. Calls On India, Pakistan To Improve Communication Over Kashmir

Kashmir -- Indian army personnel salute during the funeral of army soldier Sunil Kumar Vidyarthi, who died in a gun battle in Indian-administered Kashmir, at his funeral in his hometown of Gaya, September 20, 2016

The U.S. State Department has urged India and Pakistan to improve communication in order to avoid an increase in tensions over the divided and disputed region of Kashmir.

The call by State Department spokesman John Kirby came on September 29 after Indian special forces reportedly crossed the line of control to attack militants on the Pakistan-administered side of Kashmir.

Kirby said "an attack like that escalates tensions."

Pakistan said on September 29 that two of its soldiers were killed by Indian troops during a predawn clash along the de facto border that lasted about six hours.

It said Pakistani soldiers "befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing" near the villages of Bhimber, Kel, and Lipa.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned what he called the "unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces," adding that the military was capable of thwarting "any evil design to undermine the sovereignty of Pakistan."

Meanwhile, India's military said it had carried out "surgical strikes" along the border to thwart attacks being planned against cities.

"Significant casualties have been caused to these terrorists and those who are trying to support them," Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said.

But Pakistan's military said "the notion of [a] surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists' bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by India to create false effects."

Pakistan and India often trade fire in Kashmir, which has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947.

Both claim the disputed Himalayan territory in its entirety and have fought two wars over it.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters