SRINAGAR: Expressing concern over the escalation in violence at the border, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association has warned that the increasing hostilities can lead to "full scale war" while calling upon the two countries to take immediate steps to defuse the situation.

Urging India and Pakistan "to stop the targeting of civilian population" living along the de facto border, the Bar said the two countries must take "immediate measures to settle the Kashmir issue, which is the main cause behind such happenings".

"Even in war times, persons taking no active part in the hostilities have to be treated humanely and they can neither be taken hostages nor can they be subjected to any humiliating or degrading treatment," a statement issued by the Bar said, two days after suspected Pakistani militants beheaded an Army soldier and killed two others.

After the killing of its three soldiers on Tuesday, the Army had said it will inflict "heavy retribution for the cowardly act". A day later on Wednesday, Pakistan claimed that nine civilians and three soldiers were killed when Indian forces targeted a passenger bus in Neelum Valley.

"Wednesday firing on a passenger bus which killed nine civilians and thereafter the attack on an ambulance which was trying to take the injured to hospital is totally inhuman and is bound to aggravate the situation on the borders further and if such kind of activities are not stopped it may result in a full scale war between the two countries, which would be disastrous for the people of India, Pakistan and Kashmir," the Bar said.

Tensions are escalating in Kashmir with the authorities halting work on 330 Megawatt Kishen Ganga Hydro Electric Power Project after intense mortar shelling from across the border in Gurez sector Wednesday morning. Officials said two civilians and six soldiers were injured in shelling by Pakistani troopers in Keran and Rajouri sectors on Wednesday.

"The wounded and sick have also to be allowed to be collected and cared for, the ambulances have also to be spared and civilian hospital, which take care of the wounded and sick can in no circumstances be made object of any attack and have to be respected and protected from any kind of onslaught,” the Bar statement said.

The Bar said that despite India and Pakistan being signatories to the Geneva Convention, the continuing exchange of gunfire has resulted in civilian killings on both sides of the border "which is a clear violation of the principles enshrined in Geneva Convention.”

"Because of the firing the people living in the border areas, have left their home and hearth and have taken shelter in schools and other places, which is causing tremendous hardship and problems to them," the Bar said.

The Bar statement said it will also appeal the United Nations "to intervene in the matter and impress upon both India and Pakistan to settle the core issue of Kashmir, so that there is peace and tranquility in the sub-continent and the people of the region are able to live a peaceful life".