SRINAGAR: Five Indian soldiers, including a Non-Commissioned Officer , were killed in a deadly attack by armed intruders on the Line of Control in Kashmir on Tuesday. The deaths created an uproar in India and threatened the prospectus of peace talks with Islamabad.
Indian army sources said the attack took place in the early hours of Tuesday about 450 m (500 yards) inside Indian territory at Chakandabad area of Poonch in southern Kashmir.
New Delhi pointed fingers at the Pakistani military for the incident, a claim strongly refuted by officials in Islamabad.
The soldiers , six in number, were on a regular patrol on the sensitive Line of Control (LoC). One of the soldiers is said to have escaped the attack in an injured condition by hiding behind a bush.
Indian army claimed that Pakistan Boarder Action Team (BAT) was involved in the attack, indicting the Pakistani Army, which has denied the charge.
However, Defence Minister AK Antony told Parliament “the ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily-armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army Uniforms.”
Udhampur based army spokesperson Colonel Kalia while giving details of the incident told reporters, that scores of army personnel, belonging to Pakistan Boarder Action Team, including heavily armed militants, opened fire on the 21 Bihar Regiment at Saral post in Poonch sector killing five soldiers on the spot.
The attackers belonged to the border action team of the Pakistan army and Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad, he said. The claim could not be independently verified.
The deceased army personnel were identified as Naik Prem Nath Singh, Lance Naik Shambu Sharan, Naik Maney, Vijay Kumar and Raghunandan Prasad. Soon after the assault the attackers .
Army said that, this action is a likely consequence of frustrations of the militant organizations and Pak Army due to successful elimination of 19 hardcore militants in the recent months of July and August along the Line of Control and in the hinterland of J&K.
The effective counter infiltration grid on the Line of Control has ensured 17 infiltration bids foiled this year resulting in killing of a total of 13 hardcore Pak trained militants. The numbers of such attempts have doubled this year in comparison to the corresponding period of 2012.
Number of ceasefire violations this year have also gone up, they said. There have been 57 ceasefire violations this year which is almost 80% more than the violations last year, army said.
Senior superintendent of Police (SSP) Poonch, Shamsher Hussain told reporters in Jammu that the attackers took the advantage of dense vegetation. “The soldiers were believed to have been on a regular patrol along the LoC and were passing through a vulnerable (unfenced LoC) sector of some 300 meters between Cheeta and Begum posts when they were ambushed,” he said. “Some local civilians reported to police that they heard some firing at approximately 0200 hrs,” the SSP said.
Meanwhile the government summoned Pakistani deputy high commissioner Mansoor Ahmed Khan and lodged a strong protest against the killings.
The killings caused an uproar in parliament and a senior leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Yashwant Sinha, said the Indian army should give a befitting reply to Pakistan. He called on the government to abandon planned talks with Islamabad.
India also made the accusation that Pakistan-based militants were trying to breach LOC in increasing numbers, reinforcing Indian fears that these groups are turning their focus to Kashmir as foreign troops begin to leave Afghanistan.
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