India and Pakistani forces faced off across their tense border on Monday as British Prime Minister Tony Blair headed for Pakistan to try to defuse tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
The two sides exchanged intermittent machinegun and rifle fire across the border near the Pakistani town of Sialkot in Punjab province late into Sunday night, a witness said.
There have been frequent firefights in the Sialkot area in recent days and three Indian soldiers were killed by Pakistani mortar fire on Sunday, one Pakistani newspaper reported.
The area was quiet on Monday morning, another witness said.
One Pakistani man was seriously wounded by Indian fire near a a ceasefire line separating the two sides in disputed Kashmir late on Sunday, an official in the area said. There were no reports of firing in the region early on Monday.
Pakistan on Sunday dismissed an Indian army report that its forces had shot down an unmanned Pakistani spy plane, saying the Indians had lost a remote-control spy aircraft over Indian-held territory in disputed Kashmir.
Fears of all-out war between the neighbours, which have fought each other three times since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, have been stoked after a December 13 attack on India's parliament that New Delhi has blamed on two Pakistan-based Kashmiri separatist groups.
Demanding that Pakistan take action against the groups and end "cross-border terrorism", India launched a huge military build-up on its border with Pakistan -- the biggest in 15 years.
Pakistan responded by rushing in its own reinforcements.
Blair was due in Pakistan on Monday for talks with President Pervez Musharraf.
Blair met India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in India on Sunday and later said Vajpayee was willing to talk with Pakistan if it rejected what he called terrorism in all its forms
(China Daily January 7, 2002)