Kashmir Shelling Resumes After Pakistan Returns Indian Fighter Pilot

Nuclear crisis averted? Think again...

With his poll numbers sagging just weeks before a crucial election, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has apparently decided that Pakistan's "goodwill gesture" - returning a captured Indian fighter pilot - wasn't enough to warrant a complete de-escalation. Overnight on Friday and into Saturday morning, the two sides exchanged artillery fire across the border, resulting in civilian and military casualties.

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The shelling has produced civilian and military casualties on both sides, according to Al Jazeera.

On the Indian side of the border, three died after a shell fired by Pakistan hit their home in the Poonch region. In Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, a man and boy were killed by Indian shells in Nakiyal, while another man was wounded in the Tatta Pani region. Two soldiers have also been killed.

Here's more from Al Jazeera:

Indian and Pakistani soldiers again targeted each other's posts and villages along their volatile frontier in the disputed region of Kashmir, killing at least five civilians and two soldiers, and wounding several others, officials on both sides said on Saturday.

Fighting resumed overnight into dawn on Saturday, leaving two siblings and their mother dead in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The three died after a shell fired by Pakistani soldiers hit their home in Poonch region near the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the Himalayan territory of Kashmir between the two nuclear-armed rivals, police said.

The children's father was critically wounded and has been admitted to hospital.

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In Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a man and a boy were killed by Indian shelling in Nakiyal, said Nasrullah Khan, a hospital official. Khan said a man was also wounded in the Tatta Pani area.

The Pakistani army said in a statement that two of its soldiers were killed in Nakiyal in an "exchange of fire while targeting Indian posts undertaking firing on civilian population".

Separately, a police official in Rawalakot, speaking to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity, said that a man had been wounded and three homes destroyed in the Indian shelling overnight.

What has become the most serious outbreak of hostilities between the two neighboring nuclear powers since the end of the last India-Pakistan war in 1971 started last month when a suicide bomber from the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist group blew up a convoy of Indian paramilitary troops, killing dozens. In response, India bombed what it said was a JeM training camp in Pakistan (though Pakistanis account of the bombing differed). Then, in an exchange of aerial hostilities, both sides downed fighter jets, resulting in an Indian pilot being captured by Pakistani forces. That pilot was then returned, as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed he would take the necessary steps to de-escalate hostilities.

With a nuclear crisis in South Asia looking increasingly plausible, it's worth remembering that while India has pledged to never use nuclear arms in a preemptive strike, Pakistan has repeatedly said it would employ tactical nuclear weapons to counter India's far-superior conventional weapons firepower.

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