India and Pakistan on Monday issued strong protests to the other side over what they called unprovoked firing that resulted in the killing of civilians on both sides of the border in a flare up of tensions between the neighbours.

A person familiar with the development on the Indian side said India’s protest was conveyed in a phone call to the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi.

“A strong demarche was made to the Pakistan side on the killing of three innocent Indian civilians,” said the person cited above said. A demarche is a diplomatic note, generally issued to lodge a protest over any action by the other side.

Among those killed on the Indian side in recent days in an escalation of tensions was a three-year-old, according to news reports. India says that Pakistan has been violating a 2003 ceasefire agreement that calls on both sides to stop targeting civilians and military positions along their line of control border. The aim of the firing, according to India, is to push in terrorists into the Indian-Kashmir to fuel an armed insurgency in the region.

Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Pakistan summoned Indian Charge d’Affaires Gaurav Ahluwalia and lodged a protest over the alleged ceasefire violation by the Indian troops along the Line of Control that killed a civilian, a PTI report from Islamabad said.

The Foreign Office said that Director General (South Asia & SAARC) Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri summoned Ahluwalia and “condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations” in Dhudnial, Rakhchikri, Chirikot and Baroh Sectors on 12 April. Chaudhry said that a two-year-old boy was killed in Dhudnial Sector and in Rakhchikri and Chirikot Sectors, two civilians were injured respectively.

According to a second person familiar with the development, Pakistan had tried and failed to mobilize international public opinion on its side after India revoked article 370 of its constitution in August and integrated the region more closely with the rest of India. According to the second person cited above, since August, protests by local Kashmiris have been low and there have been few incidents of stone pelting by Kashmiris. This shows that the kind of protests Pakistan had expected in the aftermath of the abrogation of article 370, after the strictures imposed in the region on movement of people were removed, were not happening. This, the second person said, was one of the reasons for Pakistan’s “desperate” attempts to push in terrorists to foment unrest in the region. “If you look at the past few months, not a single civilian life has been lost to violence though a number of terrorists have been killed,” the person said. Despite the winter being severe this year, Pakistan showed no let up in attempts to push in terrorists into Kashmir, the second person said pointing to the killing of five terrorists in Keran sector along the Line of Control last week. Five Indian army commandos were also killed in the operation. India had retaliated strongly to Pakistan’s ceasefire violations, blowing up ammunition stores and other installations on the Pakistani side.

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