Kashmir: India army chief Bikram Singh says 'no Kargil-like situation'

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Indian army chief Gen Bikram SinghImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Gen Bikram Singh says operations are on to "flush out" the militants

The Indian army chief has said there is "no Kargil-like situation" in Indian-administered Kashmir where troops have been fighting "30 to 40 Pakistan-backed militants" for the past 11 days.

Gen Bikram Singh denied reports that the militants had occupied a village in the Keran area on the Indian side.

Media reports have compared the clashes to the limited war India and Pakistan fought in 1999 in the Kargil region.

Pakistan has denied India's claim and called it "a blatant lie".

"No such thing happened at all. This is a blatant lie. We totally deny this baseless allegation," a Pakistani military spokesperson said on Thursday.

Claimed by both countries, Kashmir has been a flashpoint for over 60 years.

Bilateral ties have been strained over recent clashes in the disputed region.

Last month, at least 10 people were killed when militants stormed a police station and an army camp in the Poonch area of Indian-administered Kashmir.

'Dominating them'

There is no "Kargil-like situation", Gen Bikram Singh told reporters on Friday.

"It was an infiltration attempt by 30 to 40 militants at four to five places. They have been stopped, prevented, some of them have been neutralised. Operations are on to flush them out. It is a matter of time."

Gen Singh added: "We are dominating them from all sides and the militants are holed up. It is a broken ground. It is difficult, treacherous terrain. They are stuck in that and we will take them on. It is a question of time. Such operations take time."

On Wednesday, a senior Indian army official in Kashmir said some 10 to 12 infiltrators were killed by Indian soldiers.

Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh said Indian soldiers first encountered up to 40 militants on 24 September in an abandoned village called Shala Bhata near the Line of Control (LoC), which divides the region.

He said the infiltrators included some special Pakistani troops and described it as "one of the longest operations in Kashmir".

The latest fighting is taking place days after Indian PM Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif pledged in New York to work together to halt a recent upsurge of violence in Kashmir.

During the weekend Mr Singh told the UN General Assembly Pakistan had to stop being "the epicentre of terrorism".

Mr Sharif swept to power in May with pledges to improve ties with India.