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U.N. chief concerned by Kashmir violence, loss of civilian lives

UNITED NATIONS: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern on Thursday about a recent escalation of violence between Pakistan and India, deploring the deaths and displacement of civilians in the worst fighting between the nuclear-armed rivals in over a decade.

Nine Pakistani and eight Indian civilians have been killed since heavy shelling by both sides’ security forces started more than a week ago along a 200-km (125-mile) stretch of border in the disputed, mostly Muslim region of Kashmir.

“The secretary-general is concerned about the recent escalation of violence along the line of control between India and Pakistan. He deplores the loss of lives and the displacement of civilians on both sides,” said United Nations spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci.

Both countries have accused the other of igniting the latest hostilities that have hit heavily populated civilian areas. India says it will not talk to Pakistan or stop firing until its neighbor backs down first.

The U.N. chief “encourages the governments of India and Pakistan to resolve all differences through dialogue and to engage constructively to find a long-term solution for peace and stability in Kashmir,” the spokeswoman told reporters.

Since their partition in 1947, the countries have fought three wars – two over Kashmir. Despite numerous military skirmishes, there has not been a full-blown war since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.-Reuters

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