Kashmir had its deadliest attack in years when armed gunmen stormed an Indian army base Sunday, killing 18 Indian soldiers and injuring a number of others.
Four armed militants of unknown affiliation carried out an assault on an Indian army base in the garrison town of Uri in Indian-administered Kashmir early Sunday morning. The gunmen were killed in a shootout with Indian troops.
During the attack, 17 Indian soldiers were killed. Another soldier died of his wounds later. A number of other soldiers suffered severe burns when their tents and shelters caught fire after being hit with incendiary ammunition, reports Reuters.
The attack took place near the de facto border between India and Pakistan and is one of Kashmir’s worst attacks since militant raids began in the late 1980s.
“I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the attack.
A high-level meeting was held Monday in India to discuss suitable responses. Many officials are pointing fingers at India’s neighbor, Pakistan. The prime suspect is Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh called Pakistan a “terrorist state” and demanded Modi take action.
“I am deeply disappointed with Pakistan’s continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups,” Singh added.
“Enough is enough…How long will we keep on absorbing terror strikes without effectively retaliating? Our defensive approach only serves to embolden the Pakistan army-ISI (Inter Service Intelligence) combine further,” another senior Indian official reportedly said.
“We reserve the right to respond to any act of the adversary at a time and place of our choosing,” Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh told reporters. Singh also mentioned that Indian troops had seized equipment with Pakistani markings from the Indian army base in Uri.
Some Indian military officials proposed putting pressure on Pakistan by conducting concentrated artillery barrages, sniping, and other operations along the 778-kilometer Line of Control (LoC), reports the Times of India. Some officials suggested sending in special forces trained in “irregular warfare” to target terrorist camps and outposts on the opposite side of the LoC.
India would violate the 2003 ceasefire if it targets positions in Pakistan — the countries are nuclear-armed rivals.
“The government has to take into account that any strike inside Pakistan can escalate into an all-out war. Pakistan, of course, often threatens first-use of tactical nuclear weapons if it is attacked by India,” one Indian official cautioned, according to reports.
Pakistan has condemned India’s “vitriolic statements,” claiming that India is trying to draw attention away from the human rights situation in Kashmir. More than 80 anti-government protesters have reportedly been killed over the past two months.
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