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New Delhi: Pakistan on Monday said seven of its soldiers had been killed in cross-border shelling by India with Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemning the incident and warning of a further escalation in tensions.

A Twitter post by the Inter Service Public Relations of the Pakistan Army said : ‘7 soldiers embraced shahadat (martyrdom) at #LOC in Bhimber sector in cross fire LOC violation by Indian troops late last night."

If the statement is true, this would be a rare admission by Pakistan of losing men along the border with India.

Meanwhile a Pakistani foreign ministry statement cited Sartaj Aziz as saying that he “strongly condemns the Indian cease-fire violation on the LoC (Line of Control)."

“The Adviser expressed grave concern over the recently increased frequency and duration of indiscriminate firing/shelling from the Indian side, deliberately targeting villages and civilian populated areas, which has resulted in the Shahadat of 26 civilians and injuries to 107, including women and children, in complete violation of the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding and international law," the Pakistani statement said, adding that the Pakistani troops had given a “ befitting response."

“The Adviser expressed the apprehension that the Indian actions, which constituted a threat to the maintenance of peace and security, may lead to strategic miscalculation. He emphasized that Pakistan was exercising maximum restraint in the face of Indian belligerence," the Pakistani statement said.

Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif expressed similar views.

“The international community should pay attention," Asif told Geo News TV. “It can escalate. This could be catastrophic for the region."

There was no immediate response from the Indian government.

India-Pakistan ties have been in free fall since Islamabad described Burhan Wani, a terrorist belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen group who was shot dead by Indian security forces, as a “martyr" and a “Kashmiri leader". Pakistan has been vociferously highlighting what it calls are human rights violations in Kashmir, riling India.

Some 86 people have been killed and many injured in the unrest that followed Wani’s killing. The tense ties plunged further when Pakistan-based terrorists targeted an Indian Army garrison in Uri in Kashmir, killing 19 soldiers.

India then launched a strike against terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on 29 September, something Pakistan denied. Exchange of fire along the Line of Control has been frequent since then.

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