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Cross-LoC trade via Uri suspended.

The cross-LoC trade between the divided parts of Kashmir was suspended Thursday following alleged ceasefire violations by the Pakistani army in Uri area of northern Baramulla district since yesterday, officials said.

In the past two days, two soldiers of army’s rashtriya rifles were injured while a residential house and a tin-shed were damaged during the LoC skirmishes in the area. The damaged structures belonged to Hakim Ali Mir of Batar Kundibarja.

A police spokesman said the ceasefire violation started Wednesday morning in Kamalkote area in Uri “after Pakistani troops attacked an Indian post with light arms. The firing was retaliated by the Indian troops but the exchange of fire continued for some time”.In the evening, the spokesman alleged that Pakistani troops “again resorted to firing and used mortar shells which continued till late night hours”.

“Though there was lull during the night, the Pakistani soldiers again resorted to heavy mortar shelling in the wee hours of Thursday,” the spokesman said.Following the LoC skirmishes, authorities decided to suspend the cross-LoC trade which was scheduled to take place Thursday.

“Since the exchange of fire took place close to Kaman-Post, we decided to suspend the trade. We don’t want to take any risk. The trade will resume once the situation returns to normal,” said sub-divisional magistrate Uri, Baseer-ul-Haque.

The trade activity through Uri area in northern Baramulla district started on October 21, 2008 and was considered as a biggest confidence building measure between India and Pakistan. It is conducted via Salamabad-Chokoti route in Kashmir and Chakan-da-Bagh-Rawalakot route in Jammu. The trade is done on 21 agreed upon items.

According to officials, in the last more than 10 years, trade worth more than Rs 5400 crore (including Rs 2927 crore worth export and Rs 2574 crore worth import) has taken place between both the sides.The hostile situation along the LoC often disrupts the trade, causing heavy losses to the traders involved on both sides of the divide.

An official said the ceasefire violation in Uri Wednesday occurred days after a brigade commander-level meeting was held at a border crossing in Poonch on November 23.

“The meeting was held in the wake of exchange of small arms fire in November, in Jammu sector, which left four people including three soldiers dead,” he said.

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