The Indian Army on Friday said that militants killed a soldier and mutilated his body during an encounter in Machhal sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district. They also claimed that one of militants was killed near the Line of Control during the exchange of fire on Friday evening, and added that the Army was gearing up to give “an appropriate response”.

The encounter took place under the 53 Infantry Brigade. The soldier has been identified as Manjeet Singh of 17 Sikh Light Infantry, reported the Times of India.

The army’s Northern Command released a statement, saying, “In a despicable act, the terrorists mutilated the body of the Indian Army soldier before fleeing into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, supported by covering fire from Pakistani Army posts. This act will invite an appropriate response.”

The encounter comes at a time when there is heightened tension along the border. Earlier on Friday, the Border Security Force had said that it had killed 15 Pakistani soldiers, a claim refuted by the Pakistani Army. Three BSF soldiers have been killed in cross-border firing in the past five days, reported NDTV. On Friday night, a civilian woman was shot dead by militants in Pulwama district. According to The Indian Express, the militants barged into Isma Begum’s home and killed her.

Lives in Pallanwala, Sunderwani, Nowshera and RS Pura sectors of Jammu and Kashmir have been heavily affected by the constant firing and shelling from across the border. Most residents have moved to safer places fearing escalation of the situation. The Defence Ministry had said earlier that the Pakistani Army was using "small arms, automatics, 82 mm and 120 mm mortars."

India has said that there has been an increase in cross-border firing after it carried out surgical strikes on "terror launchpads" along the LoC with Pakistan on September 29. Officials reported breaches on October 3, 4 and 5 along the border in the region. On September 18, militants had attacked an Indian Army installation in Uri, killing 19 soldiers. India had accused Pakistan of being involved in the strike, but Islamabad has dismissed the allegations as baseless.