Indian police intercept weapons 'headed for Kashmir'

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Kathua police personnel stand next to three men with their faces covered and the weapons and ammunition recovered after their arrest in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, on Thursday. — AFP

NEW DELHI — Three men suspected of belonging to a Pakistan-based militant organization were arrested on Thursday transporting weapons and ammunition toward Indian Kashmir, police said.

Police intercepted the men early Thursday and seized four AK-56 assault rifles, two AK-47s, 6 magazines and 180 rounds, said police official Shridhar Patil

"The truck was coming from (Indian state of) Punjab and was on its way to Kashmir. We are investigating where exactly they picked up the ammunition from," Patil told a news conference.

Police said the men, all residents of Kashmir, were affiliated to Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Pakistan-based Islamist group that claimed a suicide bombing in February in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.

Tensions have heightened in Kashmir since India stripped its part of the region, split between India and Pakistan since 1947 and the source of several conflicts, of its autonomy on Aug. 5.

It cut off mobile phones and the internet and moved tens of thousands of soldiers to maintain peace, joining half a million already there in one of the world's most militarized areas.

While a few restrictions have been eased, the Indian government continues to keep Kashmiri political leaders under detention and has not lifted severe restrictions on movement and communication.

India's national security adviser said Saturday that a "majority" of Kashmiris supported its move except for a "vocal minority" backed by Pakistan, which he said has readied 230 militants to infiltrate Kashmir.

On Wednesday police said that a militant affiliated to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), another Pakistani-based militant group, was killed by security forces.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she was "deeply concerned about the impact of recent actions by the government of India on the human rights of Kashmiris".

Pakistan's foreign minister demanded the UN investigate the situation, given the "risk of a genocide". India says that it is an internal matter. — AFP


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