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Kashmir trade suspended after driver arrest

Trade between India and Pakistan across the de facto border in Kashmir has been suspended following the arrest of a truck driver accused of smuggling heroin, a Pakistani official said Sunday.

MUZAFFARABAD: Trade between India and Pakistan across the de facto border in Kashmir has been suspended following the arrest of a truck driver accused of smuggling heroin, a Pakistani official said Sunday.

All movement along the Line of Control (LoC), which divides the disputed Himalayan region, has been suspended after Indian authorities detained a Pakistani truck driver for allegedly carrying 114 kilogrammes (250 pounds) of heroin, said the official.

"Travelling and trade has been suspended until the matter is taken up at a higher level," Mohammad Ismail, chief of the Trade and Travel Authority in Pakistani Kashmir, told reporters.

He added that 49 Pakistani trucks and their drivers were being held on India's side of the border following the incident, while Pakistan had retaliated by holding 27 trucks.

Barter trade across the de facto border began in 2008 as part of peace efforts between the nuclear-armed neighbours, but it is frequently disrupted over disputes.

It was last suspended in September 2013 for a period of almost six weeks over a disagreement on the origin of goods being traded.

Kashmir, divided between India and Pakistan at their independence from Britain in 1947, has been a continual thorn in relations and the countries have fought two wars over the territory.

In addition to barter trade, families separated by the de facto border may apply for special travel passes to allow them to visit their relatives on buses that are open for two days a week.

More than a dozen armed rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for the region's independence or its merger with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting according to an official count while local rights groups estimate up to 70,000 have lost their lives.

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