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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, January 22, 2018

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India begins heavy shelling on Pakistani posts in ‘heavy retribution’

After second Indian soldier is mutilated by militants

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NEW DELHI, India - As the cross-border conflict between India and Pakistan intensifies, the Indian army has vowed retribution after militants from across the border ambushed Indian troops, killing three soldiers in the disputed Kashmir region. > BNN

The Indian army said the body of one of the soldiers was mutilated, which is a gross violation of the Geneva Convention.

According to the Indian army, as Pakistan continued to violate ceasefire in Bhimber Gali, Krishna Ghati and Nowshera sectors of Kashmir, India launched heavy shelling on Pakistani posts in Poonch, Rajouri, Kel and Machil sectors.

Both countries have accused each other of violating a 2003 Kashmir truce accord and in recent times, dozens of civilians and soldiers on both sides have been killed since militants attacked an Indian army base in September.

An Indian army officer said, “Counter-infiltration patrol party of Indian army was ambushed by terrorists ahead of the fencing along the Line of Control in the forest belt in Machil sector in Kupwara district on Tuesday.”

Although, the Pakistani foreign ministry denied the claim, Indian army spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia said, “Retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act.”

The attack followed by heavy shelling and firing from both sides of the borders. Pakistani authorities said at least eight people were killed when an Indian shell hit a passenger van in the Neelum valley region.

As for India, the mutilation of a soldier's body on Tuesday was the second time such an incident occured in a month. 

Earlier on October 28, the Indian Army claimed that an Indian soldier, identified as Manjeet Singh of the 17th Sikh Regiment, was killed in an encounter with terrorists in the Machil sector along the LoC. 

The soldier’s body was beheaded and his head was reportedly carried back across the LoC by the terrorists. 

Since the incident, Indian Army has been conducting fire assaults with heavy-calibre weapons, including artillery guns, 120mm mortars and anti-tank guided missiles.

Territorial conflict

The two countries have been involved in territorial battle linked to Kashmir since Pakistan was separated from India in 1947. 

That very conflict led to three straight battles in 1947, 1965 and 1999 over the region.

However, things started improving after the 1999 Kargil war leading to reopening of the Samjhauta Express or Friend Express in 2004. 

But relations again deteriorated since attacks on the Indian Parliament in 2001. Indian intelligence claimed that terrorists that attacked the complex were trained in Pakistan. It further escalated in 2008 when Mumbai came under terrorist attacks. One of the captured assailants, Ajmal Kasab claimed they were trained in Pakistan by the Pakistani army.

Later in 2014, when PM Narendra Modi's BJP government swept to power, he promised a tough line on Pakistan. 

After Uri Attacks, which killed 23, in September this year, the Indian Army claimed to have conducted surgical attack in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, escalating conflict between the two nations. Following the Uri incident, Modi vowed revenge and said, “I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished.”

Islamabad retorted claiming that India's stance was a "blatant attempt" to deflect attention from human rights abuses in the Kashmir region as more than 80 people in an anti-government protest died in months of violence against Indian rule.

As with every stand-off in Kashmir, people from either part of the border fear that the escalation of gun battle could turn into a fourth war between the two nuclear-armed countries. Analysts, however, suggest otherwise. They believe that periodic clashes and diplomatic sabre-rattling are likely to continue.

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