Asia

Kashmir attack: Pakistan hits back at India accusations

An Indian army soldier salutes the coffins of colleagues during a wreath laying ceremony for 17 Indian army soldiers killed in a gunbattle at the army headquarters in Srinagar on September 19, 2016. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The militant attack was the deadliest on Indian security forces in Kashmir in years

Pakistan has hit back after India accused it of masterminding a militant attack in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed 18 soldiers.

A statement from Pakistan's foreign ministry condemned the "vitriolic statements" by India.

It called India's stance a "blatant attempt" to deflect attention from human rights abuses in Kashmir.

Indian Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh called Pakistan a "terrorist state" soon after Sunday's attack.

Seventeen soldiers died in the raid. One soldier succumbed to his injuries on Monday, taking the death toll to 18.

The attack comes as violent protests against Indian rule in the disputed region continue, with a curfew imposed.

More than 80 people, nearly all anti-government protesters, have died in more than two months of violence.

India held a high-level meeting to discuss an "appropriate response" to Sunday's attack - the worst on its security forces in Kashmir in years.

Local media reported that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and several top level government officials attended the meeting, held at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's official residence.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Muslim-majority Kashmir in its entirety but only control parts of it.


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'Deeply disappointed'

Earlier, Mr Singh said on Twitter that "there are definite and conclusive indications that the perpetrators of the Uri attack were highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped".

"I am deeply disappointed with Pakistan's continued and direct support to terrorism and terrorist groups," he said.

Indian army military operations head Lieutenant-General Ranbir Singh said there was evidence the attackers were members of an Islamist militant group in Pakistan.

The gunmen had "some items which had Pakistani markings on", he said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption India has blamed Pakistan for the attacks
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The attack has caused anger in India

Pakistan's latest statement said that the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir was "not of Pakistan's making but a direct consequence of illegal Indian occupation and a long history of atrocities".

It added that India's decision to blame Pakistan without conducting an investigation was "deplorable".

The attack has caused a great deal of anger in India, with many calling on the government to "strike back".

#UriAttacks was trending on Twitter in India for much of Sunday and Monday, with many calling for action against Pakistan.

Image copyright @AmanArsenal13
Image copyright @Isajag
Image copyright @TripathySubrat

The militants infiltrated across the Line of Control from Pakistan before attacking the base, west of Srinagar, an army officer told the BBC on Sunday.

Gunfire and explosions were heard for several hours.

All four of the attackers were killed. Carrying guns and grenades they stormed a base in Uri, close to the Line of Control with Pakistan-administered territory in a pre-dawn ambush.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption An India army helicopter flies above the base after the attack
Image copyright AP
Image caption Street demonstrations were sparked in July after a popular militant leader was killed

Many tents and temporary shelters caught fire during the attack, according to the army's Northern Command.

Twelve soldiers were killed by fires and the others died on Sunday in gun battles, the Hindustan Times reports, citing army sources.

Disputed Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than 60 years, causing two wars between the neighbours.

A militant attack on an army camp in Uri in December 2014 saw at least nine members of the security forces killed.

The last attack of this scale on the Indian army was in June 2015 in Manipur, north-east India, when at least 20 soldiers were killed in an attack on a troop convoy.

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