India, Pakistan each expel a diplomat amid rising tensions

ISLAMABAD (AP) " Pakistan and India on Thursday each expelled a diplomat from the other country in an exchange amid escalating tensions between the two South Asian archrivals over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

India announced earlier in the day that it expelled a staffer at the Pakistani Embassy in New Delhi after briefly detaining him for espionage activities.

Islamabad said the allegations against its diplomat, Mahmood Akhtar, were "false and unsubstantiated." Akhtar was told he had to leave New Delhi by Saturday.

Vikas Swarup, a spokesman for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted that India determined Akhtar was involved in espionage.

Ravinder Yadav, a New Delhi police official, said Akhtar, who worked at the visa section of the embassy, was found in possession of documents on the Indian troops deployed along the India-Pakistan border. Yadav said Indian security agencies had been tracking Akhtar's activities for the past six months.

"They detained him briefly for questioning and the documents were found on him," Yadav told reporter.

Akhtar was released because of his diplomatic immunity.

Yadav said two Indian men, from the western state of Rajasthan bordering Pakistan, had been arrested for passing on information to Akhtar.

Later Thursday, Pakistan's foreign ministry announced it has asked Sujeel Singh, an official working at the Indian Embassy, to leave Pakistan for violating diplomatic norms.

It said Singh must leave the country also by Saturday, along with his family members.

Pakistani and Indian troops in recent weeks have frequently exchanged cross-border fire, causing casualties on both sides.

In the latest cease-fire violation, Indian troops killed a Pakistani woman and wounded seven people along the boundary with the Indian-controlled Kashmir, the military said, adding that Pakistan "responded to India's unprovoked firing and targeted Indian posts inflicting heavy casualties."

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Associated Press writer Nirmala George in New Delhi contributed to this report.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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