Five Indian soldiers killed in border skirmish

Bloomberg

India said Tuesday that five of its soldiers died after their border post was attacked in the disputed region of Kashmir, six months after some of the most serious violence in a decade derailed peace talks with neighbor Pakistan.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on his official Twitter account that he had been briefed on the killings. The deaths call into question recent overtures by Pakistan’s newly elected government to resume meetings, he said.

A Pakistan Army spokesman said by phone that no incident had taken place and that the nation’s troops hadn’t carried out unprovoked firing along the frontier.

The latest violence in the Himalayan region may hinder efforts to repair ties between the South Asia neighbors shattered by the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last month suggested dates for talks on access to water from major rivers, and the Sir Creek maritime border, his first major peace initiative since winning elections in May.

India has been considering a proposal for discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sharif at the United Nations in New York at the end of September, an Indian government official said on condition of anonymity last week.

The parliament in New Delhi adjourned as opposition lawmakers in both chambers stood up from their seats to demand an explanation from the government over how the attack occurred.

The Press Trust of India, citing Indian defense officials it didn’t name, said Pakistani soldiers had crossed into Indian territory after midnight and ambushed the Sarla post along the so-called Line of Control that divides Kashmir.

India escalated “technical and inadvertent” border violations in recent days, according to an Aug. 3 statement on the Twitter page of Pakistan military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa. A Pakistani soldier was killed and another injured by Indian firing July 27 in the Rawalakot sector of Kashmir, he said.

Narendra Modi, who is expected to be the main opposition alliance’s prime ministerial candidate in the next election in less than a year, criticized the government for failing to secure India’s borders. Writing on his official Twitter account, he described the attack as a “dastardly ambush.”

“When will the center wake up?” Modi said, referring to the central government. “From China’s intrusions to Pakistan’s ambushes — UPA government has been absolutely lax in securing Indian borders.”

  • MERWIN PINTO

    What would Modi have done under the present circumstances? Gone on with his gun and shot across the border? It’s not as easy as ordering your forces to kill defenseless people within your state.