India steps up military presence in Kashmir after attack
Iran Press TV
Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:11AM
India has stepped up patrols along the de facto border with Pakistan as it weighs a response to a raid on an army base in Kashmir that killed 17 soldiers and fueled tensions between nuclear-armed rivals.
Some politicians called for military action after the worst attack of its kind in over a decade in the town of Uri near the Line of Control with Pakistan.
On Monday, Indian troops searched three ravines that cut across the border in mountainous terrain near Uri, which officials believe the militants sneaked across.
Reinforcements were also dispatched to patrol one of the world's most heavily-armed frontiers, where Indian and Pakistani forces stand eyeball to eyeball and sometimes exchange fire.
New Delhi has said Pakistan-based militants were behind Sunday's attack, raising the prospect of a military escalation in the already tense disputed Himalayan region.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised those responsible would not go unpunished, as his home minister accused Pakistan of "continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups."
Pakistan denies any role and has accused India of apportioning blame before it had properly investigated.
Some Indian politicians and army veterans have called for a muscular response to the assault, including airstrikes on training camps on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control that divides Kashmir.
Army Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said troops were "ready to give a befitting response," without elaborating.
On Monday, PM Modi was expected to meet senior leaders from his party at a cabinet meeting in New Delhi, where politicians were set to discuss how to respond as well as the security lapses.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed hope that all sides would "prioritize the re-establishment of stability and prevent any further loss of life."
The bloody attack came following several months of unrest in the Indian-controlled Kashmir which has seen violent clashes between government troops and residents.
The restive Muslim-majority region has witnessed an increase in mass protests since early July, when Burhan Wani, a top figure in a pro-independence group, was killed in a shootout with Indian troops.
Tens of thousands of government troops have been deployed to the region and nearly 80 people have lost their lives in the ensuing crackdown. The crackdown, however, has failed to halt the protests.
Kashmir has been at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, ever since the region gained independence from British rule in 1947. The neighbors have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir.
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