SRINAGAR, India, Oct 6, (Agencies): Indian soldiers shot dead three suspected militants who tried to raid an army base in northern Kashmir on Thursday, police said, the latest in a wave of attacks that has raised tension with neighbouring Pakistan.
In a sign of how fraught relations have become, Pakistan’s military chief lashed out against India on Thursday and warned that Pakistan would react strongly against any aggression. The three suspected militants were found in an orchard near the army base in Kupwara district near the Line of Control, the de facto border that divides Muslim-majority Kashmir between India and Pakistan, which both claim the Himalayan region.
Police superintendent Ghulam Jeelani said the attackers engaged in heavy firing with soldiers before they retreated from the base, the second to be attacked in days in northern Kashmir. The attack came as India and Pakistan exchanged more gunfire across the frontier in Kashmir, despite a 2003 ceasefire, setting off panic among residents in border areas.
Tension has escalated since last week, when India announced its special forces had carried out a strike against militants camped on the Pakistan side of Kashmir and inflicted significant casualties. Pakistan denied such a strike had taken place and accuses India of fabricating the raids to give Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a domestic political boost. “Any aggression, born out of deliberate intent or even a strategic miscalculation, will not be allowed to go unpunished and will be met with the most befitting response,” said General Raheel Sharif, the head of Pakistan’s military.
“While Pakistan wants good relations with all its neighbours, no one should make any mistakes about our collective resolve to defend our motherland,” he said. The latest round of tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours began in July when violent protests against the Indian military erupted in Indian-ruled Kashmir after Indian forces killed a separatist guerrilla leader.
India accuses Muslim Pakistan of backing the militants and of infiltrating them into Indian Kashmir. Pakistan denies that saying it only offers moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their campaign for self-determination. Tension increased sharply when militants killed 19 Indian soldiers in a raid on an army camp on Sept. 18, the heaviest toll in nearly two decades.