Indian soldier killed, two wounded near Kashmir border


Indian Soldier, Kashmir, LoC,SRINAGAR: An Indian army soldier has been killed and two others wounded in a skirmish near the heavily militarised de facto border with Pakistan in Indian Kashmir, a defence spokesperson said Monday.

“A patrol of the army was targeted by mines and small arms fire by a group of unidentified armed personnel,” a defence statement said, referring to the clash on Sunday night.

The incident took place in Akhnoor, 350 kilometres south of the main city of Srinagar, as hardline prime minister-elect Narendra Modi was busy giving shape to a new government in New Delhi.

Modi, who has said that peace talks with Pakistan cannot take place at the same time as violence, swept to power on Friday after his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scored the first parliamentary majority in 30 years.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan by a heavily militarised de facto border known as the Line of Control (LoC) and the territory is claimed in full by both countries.

Modi has previously reacted sharply to clashes on the border and his top aide Amit Shah has said on several occasions that Pakistan’s army would not “dare” cross the LoC with Modi as prime minister.

He is expected to be sworn in later this week.

About a dozen rebel groups have been fighting Indian forces since 1989 for independence or merger of the Himalayan territory with Pakistan. The fighting has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.

India accuses Pakistan of helping the rebels infiltrate Kashmir across the LoC, a charge Islamabad denies, saying it provides only moral and diplomatic support.

Bilateral ties between India and Pakistan have only slightly recovered from the rock bottom they hit after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were allegedly killed by Pakistani gunmen.

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