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First lull in Kashmir since latest India-Pakistan escalation | TribLIVE.com
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First lull in Kashmir since latest India-Pakistan escalation

Associated Press
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AP
Supporters of Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious political party, chant slogans during an anti-Indian rally in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, March 3, 2019. Residents near the disputed boundary in divided Kashmir region said Sunday that it was quiet overnight, their first lull since a dangerous escalation between Pakistan and India erupted last week bringing the two nuclear-armed rivals close to full-out war.
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Mourners carry the casket of Pakistani prisoner Shakir Ullah, who was killed by Indian inmates in an Indian jail, during his funeral prayer in a village near Sialkot, Pakistan, Sunday, March 3, 2019. Ullah was beaten to death by Indian inmates this month at an Indian jail apparently in retaliation for the Dec. 14, 2018 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
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Mourners attend the funeral prayer of Pakistani prisoner Shakir Ullah, who was killed by Indian inmates in an Indian jail, in his native village near Sialkot, Pakistan, Sunday, March 3, 2019. Ullah was beaten to death by Indian inmates this month at an Indian jail apparently in retaliation for the Dec. 14, 2018 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
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Mourners attend the funeral prayer of Pakistani prisoner Shakir Ullah, who was killed by Indian inmates in an Indian jail, in his native village near Sialkot, Pakistan, Sunday, March 3, 2019. Ullah was beaten to death by Indian inmates this month at an Indian jail apparently in retaliation for the Dec. 14, 2018 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
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A Pakistani Kashmiri carries his belonging and walks through a market at his hometown in Chakoti on the violent border that separates the Himalayan region of Kashmir between Pakistan and India, Saturday, March 2, 2019. Indian and Pakistani soldiers again targeted each other’s posts and villages along their volatile frontier in disputed Kashmir, killing at some civilians and wounding few others, officials said.
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Family members of a boy, who was killed by Indian shelling, mourn next his casket at a village in Hatian Bala, 40 kilometers from Muzafarabad, capital of Pakistani Kashmir, Saturday, March 2, 2019. Indian and Pakistani soldiers again targeted each other’s posts and villages along their volatile frontier in disputed Kashmir, killing at some civilians and wounding few others, officials said.
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In this handout photo released by the Indian Ministry of Defense, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, left, meets with Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at a hospital in New Delhi, India, Saturday, March 2, 2019. The captured Indian pilot was handed over Friday in a “gesture of peace” promised by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan amid a dramatic escalation with the country’s archrival over the disputed region of Kashmir.

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan — Residents near the disputed boundary in divided Kashmir region said Sunday it was quiet overnight, their first lull since a dangerous escalation between Pakistan and India erupted last week bringing the two nuclear-armed rivals close to full-out war.

Many villagers used the calm in Pakistani-held Kashmir to leave their homes in Chakoti area along the so-called Line of Control, the demarcation line that divides the troubled Himalayan region on an Indian and a Pakistani sector, and move to safety.

Nazakat Hussain said his and many other families have no underground shelters or bunkers on their land to protect them and have no other option but to leave. The rough cold weather and snow, along with the cross-border shooting, prevented them from leaving earlier.

Pakistani government official Moazzam Zafar said some 200 families have already taken shelter in three large government buildings in the territory. Zafar said the authorities were providing warm clothing, bedding, food and medicines, and would establish more such camps.

At least eight civilians and two soldiers have been killed in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir since tensions soared following India’s airstrike last Tuesday inside Pakistan that New Delhi said targeted militants behind a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.

Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a fighter jet on Wednesday and detaining its pilot, who was returned to India on Friday. India, in turn, on Saturday handed over the body of a Pakistani civilian prisoner beaten to death by inmates in a jail in India last week. The man, Skahir Ullah, was buried later Sunday in his home village of Sialkot in Punjab province.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan practically since their independence from British rule in 1947. The two countries each claim Kashmir in its entirety and have fought two of the three wars between them over it.

The rivals struck a cease-fire deal in 2003 but regularly violate it and trade cross-border fire.

On Sunday British Prime Minister Theresa may spoke by phone with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan welcoming the return of the captured Indian pilot and reduction in tensions.

But she also urged Khan to crack down on terrorist groups operating in Pakistan, according to a Downing Street statement.

“The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of Pakistan taking action against all terrorist groups, in support of global efforts to combat terrorism,” the statement said.

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Associated Press writer Zarar Khan in Islamabad and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

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