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More Than 100 Pakistani Soldiers Buried In Avalanche

The Pakistani Army has confirmed that more than 100 Pakistani soldiers have been buried by an avalanche in the disputed Kashmir region.

Pakistani Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal on April 7 that the avalanche had hit a military camp at 6 a.m., burying 113 people, and a rescue operation was under way.

"We are using helicopters, sniffer dogs, and troops from where ever they could be mustered," Abbas said. "They are also taking part in the rescue operations."

Abbas added that some bodies had been recovered but would not say how many survived.

The avalanche occurred near the Siachen Glacier in the eastern Karakoram branch of the Himalaya Mountains.

India and Pakistan, who both claim the region, have stationed thousands of troops in the remote area. The troops brave viciously cold temperatures, altitude sickness, and high winds for months at a time.

The incident comes after an avalanche in February swept through army camps in Indian-administered Kashmir, killing at least 16 Indian soldiers while they were on duty in the mountainous border region.

Muslim-majority Kashmir has been at the center of hostilities between India and Pakistan and was the cause of two of their three wars since independence from British India in 1947.

Indian and Pakistani forces, estimated to number between 10,000 and 20,000 troops combined, have fought over the Siachen Glacier since 1984.

The glacier is known as the world's highest battlefield, and soldiers have been deployed at elevations of up to 6,700 meters.

Military experts say the inhospitable climate and avalanche-prone terrain have claimed more lives than combat.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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