Pakistan warns against any Indian cross-border raid as tensions rise

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Indian army soldiers carry a box containing bulletproof shields near the site of a gun battle with suspected militants in Srinagar on Monday. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD/SRINAGAR — Pakistan warned India against cross-border strikes in the disputed region of Kashmir after Indian authorities blamed a Pakistan-based group for an attack on an army camp in which soldiers and their families were targeted.

Saturday’s attack on the camp near Jammu, the winter capital of the revolt-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir, was the worst in months, with five soldiers and the father of one of the soldiers killed and women and children among the ten wounded.

India said the heavily armed attackers were members of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant group, drawing criticism from Pakistan about rushing to judgment without a full inquiry.

“It is a well established pattern that Indian officials begin making irresponsible statements and leveling unfounded allegations, even before any proper investigation in any incident has been initiated,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

India, it said, was making these allegations to divert attention from its brutality in trying to control the armed revolt in Kashmir, and warned against any retaliatory measures across the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between the nuclear-armed countries.

“We hope that the international community would urge India to stop the untold atrocities and gross violations of human rights in IoK (Indian Occupied Kashmir) (and) refrain from any misadventure across the Line of Control...” it said.

India has long accused Pakistan of training and arming militants and helping them infiltrate across the heavily militarized Line of Control into Jammu and Kashmir, its only Muslim majority state.

The head of the Jammu and Kashmir state police, S.P. Vaid, told reporters over the weekend that they had communications intercepts pointing to the JeM, which has emerged as a top group fighting hundreds of thousands of Indian forces in Kashmir.

The army said the attackers wore fatigues and had assault rifles, a grenade launcher and grenades.

In 2016, India said its elite troops had crossed the Line of Control into Pakistan and carried out a raid on militants after 18 soldiers were killed in an attack on an Indian army base in Kashmir.

Pakistan denies giving material aid to the fighters in Kashmir and says it only provides diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination.

On Monday, at least one paramilitary soldier was killed when two gunmen opened fire near a camp in the main city in Srinagar on Monday.

Rajesh Yadav, a spokesman for the Central Reserve Police Force, said the building near the camp in Srinagar where Monday’s attack occurred has been cleared of all civilians.

Police chief S.P. Vaid said the area has been cordoned off and troops are exchanging fire with the gunmen.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and archrival Pakistan. Both claim the region in its entirety.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep among Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population.

Several militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan since 1989. Around 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training the militants, a charge it denies. — Agencies


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